Diversity of All of Us Research Data Unlocks 275 New Genetic Variants

For the last few years, the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program has mounted an unprecedented effort to collect health data from 1 million people of all ages and ethnicities across the country for use in impactful scientific research.

In fact, the data has led researchers to a shocking discovery — 275 million previously unknown genetic variants, according to a recent news release.

Nearly 4 million of the variants are in areas that may be connected to risk for disease.

The variants, uncovered using data shared by nearly 250,000 All of Us participants, put researchers in a position to better understand genetic influences on health and disease, especially in diverse communities often left out of research.

NIH reported that half the genomic data came from Latino, African, and other non-European ancestries.

That’s more diverse than many other large genomic studies, in which 90% of participants are usually from a White, European ancestry.

“As a physician, I’ve seen the impact the lack of diversity in genomic research has had in deepening health disparities and limiting care for patients,” said Dr. Josh Denny, chief executive officer of the All of Us Research Program and an author of the study, in the news release.

“The All of Us dataset has already led researchers to findings that expand what we know about health – many that may not have been possible without our participants’ contributions of DNA and other health information. Their participation is setting a course for a future where scientific discovery is more inclusive, with broader benefits for all.”

Need for Diversity in Data Collection

In their study in Nature Medicine, NIH leaders and other experts commented that the lack of research diversity has resulted in a limited understanding of disease biology and has hindered the advancement and development of new treatments and preventions for all populations.

That’s why the All of Us Research Program is committed to collecting data from everyone, especially underrepresented populations such as Latinos.

While Latinos make up 18.9% of the US population, they only account for 10% of participation in clinical trials run by the National Cancer Institute and 4% in drug trials run by the FDA.

The diversity included in the dataset has guided many researchers toward All of Us in the hopes of advancing the campaign’s overall mission of providing precision medicine to all.

All of Us values intentional community engagement to ensure that populations historically underrepresented in biomedical research can also benefit from future scientific discoveries,” Dr. Karriem Watson, chief engagement officer of the All of Us Research Program, said in the news release. “This starts with building awareness and improving access to medical research so that everyone has the opportunity to participate.”

For researchers looking to utilize the genetic variants in studies, the data has been catalogued for registered use through the Research Workbench, which houses the program’s data analysis.

Researchers looking to immerse themselves in how data collected by the All of Us Research Program has been used in scientific research can check out the upcoming free virtual researcher’s convention.

Learn more about the All of Us Research Program by visiting their website and join the fight to make sure All of Us reap the benefits of scientific research in San Antonio and nationwide.

Make Sure We Have Diversity in Clinical Research

This latest discovery reinforces the need for diversity in scientific data collection, including clinical trials, so that the outcome of studies benefits people of all ethnicities.

Clinical trials are studies conducted using volunteers that help researchers learn how to slow, manage, and treat diseases, such as different types of cancer.

Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America! at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio, is working hard to increase Latino participation in cancer and Alzheimer’s clinical trials, with help from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.

She is using Salud America! to inform the public about open clinical trials and host webinars.

Also, the team is uplifting the voices of Latinos participating in clinical trials or programs, such as lung cancer survivor Angelina Vazquez Felsing and breast cancer survivor Diana Lopez.

“Latinos who volunteer in clinical trials are helping themselves. And they’re building a future with better treatments that can help their families in the years to come,” Dr. Ramirez said.

To find a clinical trial, visit the Salud America! clinical trials page.

In San Antonio, search the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio’s Find a Clinical Trial database to learn more about available clinical trials and eligibility requirements.


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