UW-Madison’s All of Us Research Project
Ensuring that Medical Research Benefits All
of Us
For the past year, Lucretia Sullivan-Wade has been spearheading
outreach in underrepresented communities to ensure that the
benefits of medical research benefit everyone
Part 2 of 2
By Jonathan Gramling

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was almost predictable on some levels. People with
pre-existing conditions and over the age of 65 were most at risk. And what exacerbated
conditions was access to health care and those who worked in essential services like
restaurants, grocery stores and food processing plants. Unfortunately, it is Black and Brown
communities that experience higher rates of many medical conditions including high blood
pressure and diabetes and experience disparities in access to health care. And so, it is no
surprise that it has been Black and Brown communities that have experienced the highest
death rates from COVID-19.

The All of Us medical research program has the long-term potential to ameliorate or eliminate
some of these conditions as it seeks to create a million person medical data base that is
required to include at least 50 percent African Americans, Latinx, LGBTQ, low-income and
rural residents, so that future medical research will include underrepresented groups in determining problems and solutions that benefit all of us.

Lucretia Sullivan-Wade is a community outreach specialist at one of 10 All of Us sites across the country. She is bound and determined that the study has a positive
impact on African Americans and other underrepresented groups. She is recruiting people to join the study and become partners in this pioneering research.

“A lot of individuals join because this will help their kids and their grandchildren,” Sullivan-Wade said. “They won’t go through what we go through going to the
doctor not knowing what it is and not knowing what medication is best. It’s not a one-size-fits-all health care and that is what we are going through now. This
hopefully will eliminate that. This information could eventually make its way to medical schools where medical students could be taught the difference between
people.”

People who join All of Us do get an immediate benefit in terms of a better understanding of their health and genetic make-up. And it will also ensure that African
Americans benefit from future medical research through their inclusion in this nations, de-identified data base.

“Once you join All of Us, you can get information about your DNA that they can interpret back for you and help you,” Sullivan-Wade said. “That’s why a lot of people
are interested in. The promise of All of Us is helping to fight diseases and improve health for future generations. It’s a chance for you to learn about your own health
including personalized risk factors and exposures. if researchers are interested in knowing about African Americans who have, let’s say, a kind of cancer, the
researchers will be able to access the data vetted with the type of information they want to extract. Then they can look to see if it is environmental or genetic. Why is
it that this group in this region has it and does this group in that region has it?”

While All of Us has discontinued its community outreach efforts and officially
enrolling people due to the COVID-19 restrictions, people can still sign up during
this time period and get ready to become full-fledged members when restrictions
are lifted.

People who are interested in becoming partners can visit https://allofus.wisc.
edu/how-to-join/. At the website, people can create an account, complete
enrollment forms and consent forms and complete some surveys. They will then be
ready for an in-person office appointment once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“We measure the body weight and height, and blood pressure,” Sullivan-Wade
said. “We take a sample of your blood and urine. If you can’t give blood, we’ll do a
saliva sample. But we usually try to move toward focusing on doing the blood and
urine. Those specimens are sent to our different labs. Our electronic health records
go to Vanderbilt University Hospital. We have a couple of repositories where they
go. Our bio specimens go to Rochester. The beauty of All of Us is that once you go
in and create an account, give your consent and agree to share your electronic
health records and answer health questions. Once you have your body
measurements taken — height, weight and blood pressure — and give blood and
urine specimens, it all gets de-identified. After completing the exam, people are
given $25 and you become a member for as long as you want.”

Sullivan-Wade is excited about the positive impact that All of Us could have on the
future health outcomes in the African American community.

“When we think of All of Us, it is innovative because of the diversity
demographically, geographically, and medically, especially those who are
underrepresented in the biomedical research,” Sullivan-Wade emphasized. “We’ve
been the ones who have been left out. By doing this, the diversity of the data
improves.”

Be a part of the movement and join today.

For more information, contact Lucretia Sullivan-Wade at
allofus@hslc.wisc.edu or
call 888-294-2661