Four organizations to support engagement of diverse communities in ambitious research effort
The National Institutes of Health announced its first four community partner awards to begin building a national network of trusted leaders to motivate diverse communities to join the All of Us Research Program, part of the Precision Medicine Initiative. This initial group of awardees will receive a combined $1.7 million this fiscal year, with future support planned pending the availability of funds. These awardees will raise awareness about the program among seniors, Hispanics and Latinos, African Americans and the LGBTQ community, to complement other outreach efforts of the program. NIH anticipates making additional funding awards for community partners in the future, drawing on the lessons learned from this initial set of awardees.
All of Us is an ambitious effort to gather data over time from 1 million or more people living in the United States, with the ultimate goal of accelerating research and improving health. Unlike research studies that are focused on a specific disease or population, All of Us will serve as a national research resource to inform thousands of studies, covering a wide variety of health conditions. Researchers will use data from the program to learn more about how individual differences in lifestyle, environment and biological makeup can influence health and disease. By taking part, people will be able to learn more about their own health and contribute to an effort that will advance the health of generations to come.
“Community partners are integral to All of Us,” said Eric Dishman, director of All of Us at NIH. “This first-of-its-kind program seeks to include people from all walks of life, and these community partner awardees were selected to help achieve that goal.”
“We’re committed to ensuring that participant perspectives are considered throughout every aspect of the program,” said Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., All of Us chief engagement officer. “Guaranteeing a voice to those who are typically underrepresented in medical research is step one.”
Awardees include the following:
- FiftyForward (formerly Senior Citizens, Inc.), based in Nashville, Tennessee, will share information about All of Us at affiliated lifelong learning centers and through home-based services to reach urban and rural, economically disadvantaged and older adult populations. FiftyForward also will train peer ambassadors to inspire community members to join.
- The National Alliance for Hispanic Health, based in Washington, D.C., will launch bilingual (English and Spanish) national and local initiatives to promote All of Us in Hispanic communities and work to overcome potential challenges to participation. These initiatives will be led by community-based organizations that will integrate All of Us information into ongoing, locally tailored activities, including community and family events, health care clinic services and wellness services provided by “promotores,” or lay health educators.
- The Delta Research and Educational Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the National Council of Negro Women, will launch a national health initiative called “Research Matters: Creating Possibilities to Achieve Health and Wellness for the All of Us Research Program.” The team’s community engagement plan will include outreach at events and communications through mass media, social media and direct solicitation to promote the need for inclusive research to reduce health disparities affecting African-Americans.
- The San Francisco General Hospital Foundation will form a national network to engage sexual and gender minorities across the country in All of Us. The team will provide input on enrollment materials and research plans, develop customized educational programs and study best practices in the dissemination of research results to support retention.
Reviewers evaluated applications in response to this funding opportunity based on the applicant organizations’ proposed community/population to be served, reach into historically underrepresented communities, proposed engagement approaches, past performance, key personnel and cost proposals.
“Medical breakthroughs have traditionally been based on findings from a limited portion of the U.S. population,” said Richardson-Heron. “Our hope is for future research to include all of us, so that future health care can be more tailored to our individual differences. We’re excited to have the support of these community organizations to help drive our mission and improve the health of all communities.”