The All of Us Research Program is a National Institutes of Health initiative that aims to enroll one million or more individuals living in the United States to contribute their personal health data to further precision medicine. Precision medicine is a way to tailor health care to the individual by looking at factors such as lifestyle, socioeconomic
background, environment, biology, and more. These are some of the same factors which determine our cultural backgrounds and histories. Therefore, All of Us aims to advance health care based on the individual and places a heavy emphasis on including communities that have been historically underrepresented in biomedical research.
The Arab diaspora has traditionally had to select “White/Caucasian” or “Some Other Race” as their racial categories during the course of research—medical or otherwise. All of Us is different in that there is a separate category for MENA (Middle East and North Africa), which recognizes the Arab population. With this specific category—which is still absent from other crucial forms of research, including the U.S. Census—researchers will be able to gain a better understanding of the Arab community’s health traits, needs, and behaviors, paving the way for more effective treatments and prevention strategies that will benefit generations to come.
We at Al-Bustan aim to spread awareness and education of Arab culture through the arts and language. We seek to serve a wide range of demographics in the Greater Philadelphia area, including connecting Arab immigrants and refugees. Informing our community about All of Us allows us to connect those individuals to health care that is humanizing and understanding of Arab culture.
Some of the many benefits of the All of Us Research Program, and precision medicine more broadly are:
1. Participants’ health information will be returned to them, and they will then be able to consult with their physician based on the results.
2. Communicating with health care providers who have an in-depth understanding of various cultural backgrounds, including the Arab diaspora. Since All of Us is one of the few initiatives that is providing MENA as a census category, this contributes to the representation of the Arab community within health care.
3. Ultimately, All of Us aims to bring about personalized medicine instead of relying on a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
If you are like us—concerned about security and privacy—you’ll be glad to know that All of Us takes such measures very seriously and adheres to strict privacy policies in order to ensure that everyone’s information is secure. This includes:
1. The encryption of all participant data.
2. Strict ethical standards and trainings for anyone that will gain access to the data.
3. The use of best-in-class security technologies, processes, and expertise to protect participant data and ensure ethical use.
4. Always respecting participants’ preferences throughout the process.
To learn more about the All of Us privacy policies, click here.
All of Us highlights the need to transform health care to suit the unique needs of every individual; this includes bringing the Arab diaspora into the conversation. To take part in this special research initiative visit www.JoinAllofUs.org/together, and become an essential part of the movement to advance precision medicine.