How Precision Medicine Can Transform our Healthcare System

July 15, 2019

The All of Us Research Program, launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in May 2018, is an ambitious project focused on collecting the health data of at least one million people living in the United States, in order to accelerate precision medicine and improve health outcomes. According to NIH, All of Us has the ability to facilitate research on a large variety of common and rare diseases, while simultaneously expanding our knowledge around health in general. By recognizing the unique and personal factors in individuals’ lifestyles, environments, and biology, which can impact their overall health, researchers can establish more accurate and individualized plans for medical care. Given that our current health care system falls short in its support of the distinctive challenges many communities face, precision medicine is an opportunity to create individualized care, prevention, and treatment that is effective for everyone.

While our doors are open to everyone at the Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC), we specialize in serving Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) immigrant populations, who often lack adequate health care services and face immense hurdles to accessing resources. AMEMSA communities are marginalized, and because of the social, legal, economic, and political roadblocks ingrained in American systems, obtaining sufficient health care services is extremely challenging for families. Additionally, because these communities are not accurately represented in the U.S. Census and other formal data collection projects, researchers face a particular challenge in understanding the true and distinct needs of AMEMSA community members.

Precision medicine would benefit everyone, and AMEMSA communities – already underrepresented- are particularly positioned to benefit from such individualized care. With the collection of data that highlights the unique backgrounds of individuals generated through All of Us, AMEMSA populations would have the opportunity to access more customized forms of treatment and prevention strategies. By incorporating an analysis of different backgrounds in order to create more comprehensive and representative health care, providers can also better understand the difficulties their patients undergo, resulting in more equipped medical professionals.

Many of AAFSC’s program participants have had difficulty communicating with health care providers. These experiences inform the work of AAFSC team members, who use their own cultural and linguistic competencies and trauma-informed framework to help health care and other service providers better and more effectively serve the community. We are proud to work collectively across sectors to build a holistic approach into all aspects of the services we provide. The All of Us Research Program is a perfect example of the type of collaboration that can break down cultural and linguistic obstacles to create comprehensive health care that focuses on the needs of everyone.

Since the project’s launch, more than 225,000 participants have enrolled. To join this growing group, learn more about this important program, and to have a better understanding of the privacy and security measures the program is taking, please visit Your participation will support the distribution of appropriate and suitable health care for all.