All of Us Research Program ushers in new era for technology-driven citizen science and precision medicine

Subtitle
Scripps Translational Science Institute working with Walgreens, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and other partners to enroll volunteers to use mobile technologies to study their own health

La Jolla—On May 6, a nationwide consortium led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will launch the All of Us Research Program, a pioneering research project that uses advanced technologies and engages participants as citizen-scientists to embark on a new era of health science and precision medicine.

The Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) will head efforts to engage direct volunteers in the program through partnerships with Walgreens, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), National Blood Collaborative, Quest Diagnostics and other organizations. Working with mobile technology and bioinformatics companies, STSI will lead integration of mobile apps and digital medical devices into the program to collect and analyze an unprecedented range and depth of health data. 

“All of Us represents a far-reaching initiative for what’s possible in medical research today and in the future—how each individual can generate useful data about their own health and what makes them tick,” says Eric Topol, MD, director of STSI and professor of molecular medicine at The Scripps Research Institute. “The initiative will provide an unprecedented window into individual differences in biology, physiology, lifestyle and environment that shape human health, and ultimately will enable us to more effectively prevent and treat illness.” 

The All of Us Research Program, will build the largest health data resource of its kind by asking one million or more participants to play an active role in collecting and sharing their unique health information. Health data from such a large and diverse group of people will enable scientists to study how different factors—from genetics to exercise habits—impact a person’s health.

STSI will lead the program’s national Participant Center, which among other things will manage the enrollment of direct volunteers—individuals interested in joining the study directly rather than through a participating health care provider organization. The goal is that anyone, regardless of their geographic location or access to a participating health care provider, will be able to join. 

In addition to managing overall operations for direct volunteer enrollment, the team at STSI is tasked with designing and implementing strategies to keep diverse populations of participants engaged over the life of the program. The Participant Center will seek input from participants with a special focus on populations that have been historically underrepresented in biomedical research. 

Walgreens is utilizing its substantial marketing expertise to build awareness about the program and the opportunity to join, while also making select Walgreens Healthcare clinics available for collecting volunteers’ health data. “With a local community presence throughout the country, including medically underserved areas, Walgreens works to improve the health of millions of people every day, representing a cross section of all Americans,” said Dr. Pat Carroll, chief medical officer for Walgreens Healthcare Clinics. “Now, through the All of Us Research Program, we can offer people of diverse backgrounds a chance to volunteer in research that may improve the future health of all Americans. Our local community presence and our trusted relationship with our customers and pharmacy patients make us well-suited to help this effort.” 

“As the health insurer for one in three Americans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies know there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to health care,” said Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy and innovation officer at BCBSA. “BCBSA is proud to partner with the All of Us Research Program to advance precision medicine and help shape the future of how health care is delivered, allowing doctors and health professionals to learn how to best tailor care and meet individual health needs.”

Other partners in the Participant Center include DXC Technology, EMSI Health, Fitbit, Leidos-QTC, Montage Marketing, National Blood Collaborative, Omron, PatientsLikeMe, PicnicHealth, Qualcomm, Sage Bionetworks and WebMD. 

These partnerships will be vital to integrating smartphone apps, wearable sensors and other mobile health devices into the research, providing real-time data on health metrics such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels, heart rate, heart rhythm and exercise and sleep patterns.

This data will combine with information on participants’ health history, genetics and other characteristics to provide unprecedented insight into how individual biological and lifestyle differences impact health and how those insights can be leveraged to better prevent and treat illness.

“With the number of people who will participate and the precision and breadth of the data that will be collected through mobile health technologies, All of Us will offer scientists the opportunity to study human health in ways that have never before been possible,” says Steven Steinhubl, MD, director of digital medicine at STSI.  

“These are early days for an ambitious program that we expect will last for at least 10 years,” says Katie Baca-Motes, who is the director of the Participant Center at STSI. “We’ve learned a tremendous amount to date, and will continue to adjust our outreach, enrollment and engagement strategies as we move forward and expand past national launch.”

For more information on the All of Us Research Program, visit JoinAllofUs.org.

“All of Us” is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

About The Scripps Research Institute
The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs more than 2,500 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates and 20 members of the National Academies of Science, Engineering or Medicine—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. In October 2016, TSRI announced a strategic affiliation with the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr), representing a renewed commitment to the discovery and development of new medicines to address unmet medical needs. For more information, see http://www.scripps.edu.

About the Scripps Translational Science Institute
The Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) of The Scripps Research Institute focuses on individualized medicine, using the tools of digital medicine and genomics to better understand each person and render more effective healthcare. In 2016, STSI was awarded a grant for over $200M by the National Institutes of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative to lead the All of Us Research Program’s Participant Center. STSI is further supported, since 2008, by the flagship NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award to promote human health and train future leaders in biomedicine. For more information, visit www.stsiweb.org.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Indexsm. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out our blog.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.