All of Us Program Sets Up Center for Linkage and Acquisition of Data

Oct. 12, 2023
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and partners will connect new types of information to All of Us participant data to help researchers better understand the drivers of health and disease

The National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program has awarded $30 million to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and its partners to establish the Center for Linkage and Acquisition of Data (CLAD). The center will connect new types of information to All of Us participant data to help researchers better understand the drivers of health and disease.

During the initial 18-month base period of the award, the CLAD team aims to securely acquire healthcare claims and mortality data, as well as initial environmental data based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Environmental Justice Index.

The award may be renewed annually for up to four additional years, pending the availability of funds, so the team can build on this work and include additional data streams for research.

“The CLAD approach to data collection will allow us to maximize participants’ data and expand the utility of the All of Us dataset without asking more of our participants,” said Chris Lunt, chief technology officer of the All of Us Research Program, in a statement. “This will enable All of Us data to answer questions researchers don’t yet have the means to investigate.” 

Currently, the Researcher Workbench includes information actively contributed by participants – data from biosamples, surveys, wearable devices, physical measurements, and electronic health records (EHRs) – with safeguards in place to protect privacy. The new award aims to supplement these data types to fill in gaps, as well as add new data streams that would make the information provided by participants even more impactful for advancing research on a range of diseases and conditions. These new data streams would pull from existing datasets and sources without requiring additional action by participants.

The CLAD awardees will also explore ways to overcome technical challenges associated with linking EHR data from health information networks for participants who have consented to share this information. While most participants agree to share EHR data, there are gaps in data availability. The program is seeking ways to improve data completeness using national health information exchange standards.

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus was selected following an extensive and competitive process. The team is comprised of leading academic, data, security, and software organizations. These sub-awardees include Axle Informatics, Datavant, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Medical College of Wisconsin, OCHIN, Palantir Technologies, the University of Florida, the University of Iowa, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the University of Washington, and ZeroTrust. 

Anita Walden, M.S., in the CU School of Medicine, will lead management of the program. “I am enthusiastic about this leading-edge project and joining the All of Us team,” she said in a statement. “The CLAD effort has the potential to transform research and impact the health of diverse communities by linking people to more of their data. This will enrich participant data, creating a revolutionary resource to answer questions we have yet to ask.” 

CLAD will acquire and process the linked data within a secure platform before delivering it to the All of Us Data and Research Center, which curates data and makes it accessible through the Researcher Workbench to registered researchers. The CLAD team will also develop analytical tools to help researchers jumpstart their analyses once the data are available within the Researcher Workbench. All program partners must adhere to stringent NIH and All of Us data security and privacy requirements in carrying out their work. 

“The CLAD data linkages will build on the data that participants share to provide a more complete picture of their lived experiences,” said Martin Mendoza, PhD, director of health equity at the All of Us Research Program, in a statement. “These additional data can play an important role in helping researchers further unravel health disparities and advance health equity.”

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