UF joins national effort to gather data on population sets to advance health care

By Meghan Meyer

The University of Florida is one of a network of institutions selected to implement the National Institutes of Health’s new All of Us Research Program, an ambitious effort to advance research into precision medicine.

The All of Us Research Program, which involves more than 25 institutional collaborators, is a bold effort to gather data over time from more than 1 million people living in the United States, with the ultimate goal of accelerating research and improving health. Researchers will use data from the program for studies on a variety of health conditions, to learn more about the impact of individual differences in lifestyle, environment and biological makeup. All of Us participants play an integral role in shaping future approaches to improving health and treating disease.

UF will recruit participants through the program’s SouthEast Enrollment Center network, led by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and including Emory University and the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. The network’s $4.45 million funding award will extend the geographic coverage of the All of Us program and strengthen its reach within underserved communities, including lower-income, Hispanic and Latino, African-American, Native American and rural communities.

“This will allow the All of Us Research Program to include populations that have been underrepresented in research,” said Betsy Shenkman, Ph.D., a co-principal investigator on the funding award, chair of the UF department of health outcomes and policy and co-director of the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium. “Together, the institutions in the SouthEast Enrollment Center allow some of the most diverse populations in the country, in Florida and Georgia, to participate, including seniors, people in rural areas, and Hispanic, Latino, Native American and African-American residents.”

The network will enroll participants, complete with medical baseline data and blood samples, working with the UHealth System in Miami, Jackson Health System and the Miami VA Healthcare System, along with the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium, whose coordinating center is led by the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

The organization is well-poised to contribute to the All of Us Research Program, based on its strong experience with large research efforts in the past, including the OneFlorida Data Trust. The trust holds data representing more than 14 million patients throughout Florida, including claims and encounter data for Floridians enrolled in Medicaid and robust patient-level electronic health record data such as diagnoses, procedures, medications, patient demographics and other data elements. The project will leverage existing, well-vetted security practices and strong oversight to ensure confidentiality and privacy.

The network also includes other institutions with NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award program hubs.

“Leveraging the power of the OneFlorida consortium and the involvement of CTSAs will enable the network to enroll key populations,” said William R. Hogan, Ph.D., co-principal investigator on the funding award with Shenkman and director of biomedical informatics for the UF CTSI. “The consortium’s Practice-Based Research Network brings together community-based practices, academic institutions and large metropolitan health systems throughout Florida, which together provide health care to more than 40 percent of Floridians in the nation’s third-largest state.”