Jeff Rowe, Editor, Future Care

Jeff Rowe is the editor of Future Care and a veteran healthcare journalist and blogger who has reported extensively on initiatives to improve the healthcare system at the local, regional and national level.

NIH initiative aims for national patient database

May 15, 2017 AT 1:36 PM

Precision medicine is poised to take off, but it still needs “fuel” in the form of patient datasets.

According to a recent article in HealthcareIT News, that’s the challenge that the National Institute of Health’s All of Us Research Program aims to solve. With a goal of building a national research cohort of one million or more U.S. participants, the program’s goal is to build one of the largest, most diverse biomedical datasets in the world and to make it free to use.

Eric Dishman, the program’s director, said “this national resource may help researchers better understand the complexities of how many factors — biology, genetics, location, behavior, social life, exposure, and environment — interact to influence health at both a population and individual level.”

As Dishman sees it, the ultimate goal is to solve some of the most challenging riddles of medicine, “questions like, what makes one person get sick and another similar person show no signs of any problem? Why do some treatments work for some people but not others? How can we make care more effective, where it’s tailored to each of us as individuals?”

Dishman, a veteran of Intel, where he was responsible for product and policy initiatives for health and life science solutions, will provide a close look at the program and its progress in the Opening Keynote, “Accelerating Precision Medicine for Everyone,” at the Precision Medicine Summit in Boston on June 12.

The All of Us Research Program, funded by $130 million from the NIH, was originally called the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program. Access to the data will be managed through the program’s Data and Research Support Center which is expected to build an active community of researchers who can learn from the information and propose new research initiatives.