The All of Us Research Program has awarded funds totaling $28.6 million to establish three genome centers to generate genomic data from biosamples contributed by the program’s participants.
The new All of Us Research Program Genome Centers will be led by:
• Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, with Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth);
• The Broad Institute, Cambridge, Mass., with Color, Burlingame, Calif., and the Laboratory for Molecular Medicine at Partners HealthCare, Cambridge, Mass.; and
• Northwest Genomics Center at the University of Washington, Seattle.
The All of Us Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, aims to build a nationwide community of 1 million or more participants from all walks of life, including groups that have been historically underrepresented in research. So far, more than 110,000 people have registered with the program to begin the participant journey, and more than 60,000 have completed all elements of the core protocol.
The participants are sharing different types of information, including through surveys, access to their electronic health records and blood and urine samples. Over time, they will continue to share information through additional surveys, biosamples, fitness trackers and more. These data, stripped of obvious identifiers, will be accessible to researchers, whose findings may lead to more tailored treatments and prevention strategies in the future.
The genome centers will ramp up operations in coming months. In addition to producing genome data for researchers, the centers will analyze the data for genetic results to be responsibly returned to participants who are interested in receiving them. Initially, these results will include information about a set of 59 genes known to be associated with risk of certain diseases amenable to prevention or early diagnosis (known as the ACMG 59), as defined by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics. The centers also will return information about drug-gene interactions (pharmacogenomics) that may help inform what medications might be best suited for particular conditions based on participants’ genetic makeup. In the future, information about participants’ ancestry and traits will also be available.
The genome center awardees were selected based on their proven track record at generating genomic data at scale, providing clinical validation services to verify medically-relevant variants and participating in large-scale research collaborations. The award periods may extend up to five years, pending progress and the availability of funds.
“Many people are curious about their genetic makeup,” said Eric Dishman, director of the All of Us Program, in a prepared statement. "This program will empower participants to learn more about their health, while furthering researching to benefit all of us."