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KU Medical Center announces four-state Heartland Consortium as part of the All of Us Research Program to advance precision medicine

Part of the National Institutes of Health, the All of Us Research Program is working to collect data from a million different people to drive new treatments and cures

A black and white portrait of three diverse adults facing the camera. The words, "The future of health begins with you" appear at the upper left. All of Us research program logo appears at lower left.
Researchers will be able to access de-identified data from a diverse population of participants to drive future studies and trials on all types of disease.

The University of Kansas Medical Center is launching a Midwest consortium as part of the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program. KU Medical Center and its partners will receive $6.3 million in initial funding, with the potential to renew the award every year for four years.

The goal of the All of Us Research Program is to advance precision medicine research, one day enabling clinicians to tailor patient care by accounting for individual differences in biology, behavior and environment. To that end, the program has created a national research resource that will include comprehensive de-identified health information from more than 1 million people in the United States.

“The Heartland Consortium is excited that our region will now be a part of the national All of Us Research Program, helping to further precision medicine research by ensuring people in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa are represented,” said Akinlolu Ojo, M.D., consortium principal investigator and executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine. “Our participation was made possible by the substantial resources and researcher expertise from disciplines across the KU schools of Health Professions, Medicine and Nursing and from other consortium members from our four-state region.”

The Heartland Consortium includes academic medical centers at the University of Kansas, the University of Iowa, the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska.

“It’s vital that the All of Us Research Program reflect the true diversity of the United States to allow researchers to better understand how differences in what it’s like where we live, our lifestyle and DNA impact our health and disease,” said Holly A. Garriock, Ph.D., chief cohort development officer at the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program. “The Heartland Consortium will provide opportunities for more communities to participate in medical research and be represented in the All of Us dataset, enabling researchers to discover breakthroughs relevant to their communities.”

Unlike research studies that focus on one disease or group of people, All of Us is building a diverse and secure database that can inform thousands of studies on a variety of health conditions. Researchers will be able to tap into a broad database to better understand the risk factors for certain diseases and inform future treatments and prevention. All of Us follows all federal, state and local laws in keeping data safe. The program removes all personal details from the data to prevent participants from being identified.

“The All of Us Heartland Consortium is a critical opportunity to improve health care through research by building extremely rich data resources that can inform future studies on a variety of health conditions,” said Gillian Bartlett-Esquilant, Ph.D., principal investigator at the University of Missouri. “With a statewide network of local partners, the University of Missouri is uniquely poised to engage in this exciting program, which will ultimately benefit Missourians and beyond.”

A network of consortia made up of health care provider organizations helps enroll participants who reflect the diversity of the United States, but this is the first consortium dedicated to engaging participants in the Midwest. Together, the Heartland Consortium seeks to enroll more than 6,000 participants in its first year.

“We are very excited to participate in the All of Us Heartland Consortium,” said Alejandro Comellas, M.D., principal investigator at the University of Iowa. “The aims of the consortium align perfectly with one of our main goals, which is to engage our statewide community in research, extending the benefits of their participation beyond the boundaries of our academic medical center.”

The consortium aims to reach out to a wide variety of participants, with special emphasis on those in rural areas, as well as other groups historically underrepresented in research.

“The All of Us Heartland Consortium is an important project that will allow Nebraskans to participate in one of the largest and most comprehensive databases ever constructed,” says Cyrus Desouza, MBBS, FACP, FACE, principal investigator at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “This will lead to scientific discoveries that will benefit all Nebraskans, people in the heartland and everyone nationwide. UNMC is proud to be an integral part of this consortium.”

The goal of the All of Us Research Program is to speed up health research discoveries, enabling new kinds of individualized health care.

“The All of Us award is a chance for us to support changing the way health care is delivered in the future,” said Tammy Peterman, M.S., RN, FAAN, president, Kansas City Division, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer of The University of Kansas Health System. “We are excited to be part of that process, and we believe the value will extend for generations to come. We take great pride in tailoring the patient experience today based on the individual, and we look forward to a day when we can provide clinical treatment precisely designed and tailored to each patient.”

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