Marshfield Clinic starts enrolling people in All of Us Research Program in Eau Claire

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:55 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Marshfield Clinic is looking for people in the Chippewa Valley to take part in a study one doctor said is the biggest medical research project since scientists mapped the human genome.

Known as the All of Us Research Program, the National Institutes of Health research project is looking to enroll a million people across the U.S. Marshfield Clinic is one of the medical institutions in Wisconsin signing up participants.

Tamara Cox is one of those participants. The Medford resident has ankylosing spondylitis, a genetic condition causing bone deterioration.

“There’s a lot of pain associated with it and swelling,” she said.

She said in addition to living with physical pain, it hurts knowing she gave the condition to at least one of her kids.

That’s why she decided to join the study, hoping to find answers about ankylosing spondylitis.

“I hope that someday there’s additional research on this disease that isn’t well known yet,” Cox said.

Dr. Scott Hebbring is leading the study in Wisconsin. He said the goal is to help people like Cox find answers.

“So the All of Us study is one of the largest research programs done by the National Institutes of Health with the main goal of advancing health care so that we can being treat individuals more as individuals by doing personalized compared to a one-size-fits-all strategy,” Hebbring said.

He said the study hopes to enroll 100,000 people in Wisconsin. It’ll be enrolling people in Eau Claire for at least the next two years.

“Looking for people who share unique parts about who they are, which includes their genetics and their health record data, so we can study any disease and every disease,” he said.

Hebbring said all participants have to do is give a blood congregates, take some body measurements and fill out an occasional survey.

“It was pretty easy,” Cox said.

Hebbring added in addition to helping scientist develop future treatments and cures, participants may learn crucial health information now.

“The All of Us program wants to give data back to participants especially when it comes to data that could impact their health today,” he said. “And so if a participant wants the data, we will be sharing information about what disease they could be at risk for that could be deadly as well as what medications they could respond to based on their genetics.”

For Cox, hopefully that means answers for ankylosing spondylitis.

“Maybe in my lifetime I won’t see results on a cure or better treatment for ankylosing spondylitis but maybe my children or my children’s children will see something that will be better treatment for them,” she said.

Hebbring said the study should last about a decade.

In addition to Marshfield Clinic enrolling people, Gundersen Health System is also signing up new participants.

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