NIH launches massive new personalized research project

NIH launches massive new personalized research project
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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is launching a massive new research initiative aimed at revolutionizing the study of personalized medical cures.

The “All of Us” project aims to enroll at least one million volunteers across diverse communities who will share information over time to help build what the agency is calling the world’s largest and most diverse data resource for health research.

The project has been in the beta testing stage for about a year. It will kick off nationally May 6.

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“All of Us is an ambitious project that has the potential to revolutionize how we study disease and medicine,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “NIH’s unprecedented effort will lay the scientific foundation for a new era of personalized, highly effective health care.”

The initiative is funded from annual appropriations. The 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law in December 2016, authorized a total of $1.5 billion over 10 years for the program.

According to NIH, the initiative differs from other large research programs because of the wide variety of data that will be collected. Other programs often collect limited types of samples or data, often focused on a specific disease.

Participants will be asked to share a variety of health and lifestyle information, including through online surveys and data from electronic health records that will continue to be collected over the course of the program.

Researchers will be able to request access to information from participants to conduct studies that show how individual differences affect health and disease. Findings from these studies may lead to more tailored health-care approaches in the future.

NIH officials said the project aims to build trust among populations historically underrepresented in research.

Participants will be able to access their own health information, as well as summary data about the entire participant community and information about studies and findings that come from the project, the agency said.