The National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program recently visited the Raymond Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico as part of a nationwide research program gathering information to help medical professionals understand more about why people get sick or stay healthy.
All of Us Research Program senior engagement manager, Fatima Shahzad, and the research team from the program’s coordinating center enrolled more than 70 Veterans in just one week.
“By the second day of recruiting eligible participants, we were above our goal and this is a tribute to all the work that took place behind the scenes before the research team arrived,” said Shahzad.
With VA as a major supporter, the National Institutes of Health launched the All of Us Research Program nationally on May 6, 2018. VA currently has two vanguard enrollment sites running in Boston, Massachusetts, and Palo Alto, California, with several more scheduled to launch across the country in early 2019.
“The goal is to have one million people participate in the [program],” said Shahzad. “Those who join share information about their health, habits, and the environment where they live. By looking for patterns in this information, researchers may learn more about what affects people’s health. The All of Us Research Program could last for 10-plus years to allow researchers to study health over time.”
The research team placed flyers throughout the hospital, used New Mexico VA’s (NMVAHCS) social media outlets, and worked with the health care system’s public affairs office to distribute news releases prior to the event. The visit to the Raymond Murphy VA Medical Center was the first time the All of Us Research Program conducted a week-long enrollment event to reach veteran communities.
“This is a mobile exhibit that travels to educate people on precision medicine. The goal is to enter underrepresented communities and give everyone an opportunity for a voice — including Veterans,” said Luis Astacio, member of the All of Us journey.
When asked to reflect on a special memory that stood out during their stay in Albuquerque, Shahzad said, “A Veteran shared with me that he was solidly behind this particular study and stated Veterans are people who never want to stop serving. It was a special moment where the VA contingent of All of Us Research Program encountered what we often do, which is the willingness of Veterans to give back in one way or another, and the embodiment of our purpose – to make sure Veterans are enrolled and represented in this very important national research program.”
For more information about the All of Us Research program, visit www.joinallofus.org/en/va
About the Author: Ron Bassford is a public affairs specialist for the New Mexico VA Health Care System.