All of Us returns genomic data

These days, tools like smart watch–based health apps allow people to become more engaged in their own care—and, hopefully, improve their well-being. Now, the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us research program is adding to the individualized toolbelt. The massive effort, which aims to build a database based on genomic sequences and other health-related information from 1 million volunteers, is expected to catalyze biomedical research and change how health care is delivered. It’s also offering a direct return on investment for participants.

In November 2022, All of Us began returning health-related genomic results to participants. The reports include information about pharmacogenomics (how genes affect a person’s response to medications) and hereditary disease risk.

Steven Reis, an MD, Pitt’s vice chancellor for multidisciplinary innovations in the health sciences and director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), leads the Pennsylvania arm of the study. The very first All of Us national participants enrolled at Pitt back in 2017; now, they are some of the first receiving results.

As partners in genomic testing, participants can opt in to receive results—and decide which ones they receive. The information should serve as “a conversation-starter between participants and their health care providers,” says Philip Empey, a PharmD, PhD associate professor of pharmacy and therapeutics and part of Pitt’s All of Us team.

He adds that Pitt programs are training local providers to understand results and “be on the cutting-edge of precision medicine.” At the same time, Pitt’s CTSI team is guiding investigators interested in applying for NIH funds to start analyzing the data coming out of All of Us.