As we continue to combat COVID-19, it is now more important than ever that students across the nation are aware of the healthcare and treatment options available to them. Millsaps students are no different as the college has documented 33 student cases and placed a number of students under quarantine; this makes an understanding of the options available even more relevant than they otherwise would be.
The Purple and White has recently started a partnership with the All of Us research. As part of that partnership, the P&W is here to provide a deeper look into the program, what it means for Millsaps students, and how you can take advantage of it right now. Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is the All of Us program?
The All of Us research program is a national research program started in 2015 by the
Obama Administration with one simple mission: to create a healthcare system that is tailored to the individual rather than a one-size-fits all approach. This is an emerging treatment approach developed with the intent of recognizing one’s individual lifestyle (i.e. upbringing, family structure religion), environment (i.,e. air pollution, weather, occupational hazards), biology (i.e. mental health, genetics)and other factors in determining their healthcare coverage and gaining access to the best possible care for their circumstances.
It is in pursuit of this mission that the researchers at All of Us have collaborated with University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) as part of it’s Southern network. Through this collaboration, both parties aim to provide resources and information regarding the program to the greater Jackson area, Millsaps included.
The process for All of Us is simple:
• Participants agree to share their individual data with All of Us researchers, including any health surveys they may have taken, health records/histories, and other data. Participants may also be asked to provide things such as blood samples, but according to Megan E. Folloet, manager of research recruitment for All of Us, this aspect of the process is one hold due to the pandemic.
• Personal data such as name, address, and other such information is kept under wraps by researchers and removed from the data entirely, only leaving the health-related information and (normally) any biological samples which are left in a secure biobank.
• This data is then studied directly by researchers, who look for distinct patterns to facilitate medical treatment breakthroughs.
• Participants are eventually given this information back to help understand their healthcare options.
• Researchers share whatever discoveries they made, helping produce better tests and find better treatments for the future.
Ultimately, All of Us aims to work with its participants to produce a healthier future for all by treating them like partners rather than patients, Through the program, participants can not only learn more about their own health, but they can also contribute to the betterment of their community and gain access to better research opportunities through the All of Us program. Additionally, the program aims to conduct this work by nurturing relationships with one million participants as part of it’s “Be One In A Million” initiative. The researchers at All of Us value privacy and trust, and they hope to reflect the diversity of the country by being open to all people and partnering with hospitals, networks, and clinics all over the nation, not just UMMC.
So, how can Millsaps students actually get involved? The answer to that is also simple. For one, there’s an app students can download called the All of Us Research Program app, which is currently available on the app store. From there, participants can easily enroll in the program, which will allow them to complete self-assessment for research, answer follow-up questions about their medical history, track their individual health, get the latest updates, and much more.
Participants can also create an account by visiting the All of Us website at JoinAllofUs.org or by visiting one of the program partner centers, such as UMMC. Once the account is created, participants will be prompted to provide their consent to actually participate in the program, and from there they can share their health information electronically, answer health surveys, have certain physical measurements taken at the program’s partner centers (visit the actual website for more details regarding how COVID-19 has impacted this process), and the best part – it’s all totally free!
For more information about the Southern Network of the All of Us program and how can apply, students can either visit JoinAllofUs.org/ummc, call a representative directly ar (601) 815-5073, or email a researcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.