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The U.S. government wants to use your DNA to close health divide

The mobile unit is parked outside Zoo Knoxville from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 6:13 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Patients have stopped by the ‘All of Us Research Program’ mobile unit that’s visiting Knoxville. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services invited people to enter their health history and DNA into what top researchers hope will be the country’s most diverse health database in history.

While there’s hesitation on offering up personal information for some, the folks pushing the efforts said it’s necessary.

“To provide representation to the communities that are at the moment, underrepresented. So that’s our main goal,” Tour Manager Josh Perez said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration showed a significant inequality for minorities in clinical trial research and how people of different ages or ethnicities react differently to some medical products. In a 2020 study, nearly 5,000 patients participated in trials that led to 18 new drugs hitting the market. Only 5% were Black, 14% Asian, and 6% Hispanic, compared to 73% of their White counterparts.

“If they have more information and more data to conduct research with, it’s just more and more tools in their tool belt to provide a better medicine for the future of America,” Perez said.

The mobile unit is parked outside Zoo Knoxville from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday. Desired participants can also participate through Cherokee Health Systems.

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