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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A "flagship enterprise" by the National Institutes of Health is making progress toward its goal of enrolling 1 million Americans from diverse communities in the program "All of Us," which launched one year ago, NIH director Francis Collins said Monday.

Why it matters: The lack of diversity in medical research can hinder proper treatment of non-European races and other underrepresented groups. The Big Data generated from this program is also expected to lead to discoveries on diseases ranging from diabetes and Alzheimer's to figuring out who may be more vulnerable to opioid crisis.

"We're talking about Big Data that gets bigger every day. The interesting thing about this program, though, and why I like it and why representation matters [is] because what I've learned ... all data matters, both big and small. And, in a rush to try and get that Big Data, hopefully we don't make communities invisible. ... The promise of this program ... [is] seeing them."
— Robert Winn, associate vice chancellor for community-based practice and director of University of Illinois Cancer Center, at a briefing

What's new: On Monday, the program announced current progress and launched the beta program of an interactive and public data browser tool, which currently offers only a glimpse of the data it plans to provide later in the program.

By the numbers: Collins says the program expects to reach at least 1 million participants in 5 or 6 years, and aims to follow participants for at least a decade. Since the program launched a year ago...

  • More than 230,000 people have begun the process of joining the program. 
  • More than 192,000 have signed the consent to enroll.
  • More than 142,000 have completed all the steps of the first version of the protocol. 
  • Almost 80% of the participants come from communities that have historically been underrepresented in biomedical research. 
  • More than 50% of the participants describe themselves as being part of a racial or ethnic minority.

How it works: The program has focused on some areas of the country where health care resources may be scarce, and enrolls adults of every race, ethnicity, sex, gender, and sexual orientation.

  • Participants agree to allow access to their records and go to a participating center to have their basic measurements taken and take a survey.
  • Some may be asked to provide blood and urine samples, to share data through wearable devices, or to join followup research studies, including clinical trials.

The bottom line: In trying to get away from the "one size fits all" mentality, scientists are increasingly pushing towards personalized medicine, and data from underrepresented communities is key to this goal.

Go deeper: NIH launches massive program to diversify medical research

Go deeper

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.