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All of Us program aims to diversify health database, research

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Clinical trials quite often evaluate white men, but to improve that research, communities of color need to be included.

Currently, more than 80% of clinical studies include white men, while Blacks and Hispanics each only account for about 5% of participants. A lack of diversity means that the information and treatment options medical experts develop may not suit other communities.

To try and collect health data of a more diverse group of people, the National Institutes of Health started the All of Us Research Program. NIH wants to collect health information from one million people to help build one of the most diverse health databases of its kind and advance precision medicine.

“With the program, we want to make personalized treatment and prevention for each individual based on their unique needs,” Mel Lopez, All of Us Journey Tour manager, said.

Lopez is part of an All of Us traveling educational exhibit that’s set up this week at 2102 East 10th Street in Indianapolis. Visitors can learn about the importance of participating in health research and even enroll in the All of Us program.

Organizers say diversifying the enrollment and representation from within Indy’s communities will better address prevalent health issues.

“Too often, you go to the clinic, and there is one treatment, but it’s not meant for you,” Lopez said. “With the program, we want to learn more about different lifestyles, different environments and different biologies. To see why we are all different.”

The journey is a clinical study of sorts. Those who participate will provide confidential medical information and history to help guide researchers. All of Us is inviting one million or more people to help build one of the most diverse health databases of its kind and advance precision medicine.

“Depending on how much time you have, you can stop by and create just a profile, which takes about five minutes,” Lopez said. “If you have a little bit more time, you can hang out with us and we can walk you through the process.”

The exhibit will be set up at the corner of 10th Street and Hamilton Avenue for the rest of this week. Next week, it will move to the campus of Butler University.