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Wisconsin researchers awarded $5.3 million for NIH precision medicine research program, All of Us

Three Wisconsin based medical and scientific organizations – Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and Medical College of Wisconsin – have collectively been awarded $5,360,832 to help implement in Wisconsin the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) All of Us Research Program that aims to benefit communities across the country.

These institutions will partner with BloodCenter of Wisconsin and regional Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to aid in engagement and recruitment of research participants.

The All of Us Research Program is an ambitious nationwide effort to advance research into precision medicine, an approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in biological makeup, environment and lifestyle for each person. The Wisconsin awardees will use their collective resources to enroll interested individuals and gather health information to help researchers understand how these factors can help determine how to best prevent or treat disease. The goal of the NIH All of Us Research Program is to gather health data from more than one million people living in the U.S.

The Wisconsin program will represent the collaborative efforts of three fully-integrated regional healthcare systems to form a virtual state-wide integrated delivery network. Together, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and Medical College of Wisconsin will cover 173 clinics, 13 hospitals and five Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). BloodCenter of Wisconsin will educate and engage its thousands of blood donors for potential involvement in the program.

"Our organizations have a long history of research collaboration and robust community engagement, and we're proud to be involved in a program focused on a future where better prevention, detection and treatment are possible through research," Dr. Murray Brilliant, director of the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute's Center for Human Genetics, a division of Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS).

MCHS launched in 2002 its Personalized Medicine Research Project (PMRP), a population-based biobank consisting of genetic information linked to long-term electronic health records from over 20,000 Marshfield Clinic patients. PMRP was recognized as one of the earliest and most useful biobanks in the U.S. Additionally, MCHS is one of the most productive and earliest adopters of precision medicine. MCHS's work has been cited by NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins as a model for the federal Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI).

"We are delighted to work together with our partners at Marshfield Clinic and the Medical College of Wisconsin in creating an expanded role for precision medicine here in our state," said Dr. Robert Golden, dean, UW School of Medicine and Public Health. "The timing is wonderful, as our School of Medicine and Public Health is about to create a Center for Human Genomics and Personalized Medicine."

According to Golden, this NIH award will create synergies across the partner institutions, and place Wisconsin in a national leadership position in this new approach to human health.

In addition, the NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Award, held by the University of Wisconsin in partnership with the Marshfield Clinic, has helped support substantial projects in communities throughout Wisconsin. Golden said this sets the stage for widespread participation of Wisconsin populations in the All of Us Research Program.

"I am grateful for the hard work of all the faculty and staff and those of our partners at Marshfield Clinic and University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health that led to this exciting award. This again demonstrates the power of statewide collaboration and between Wisconsin's two NIH funded CTSA programs, which provided the infrastructure needed for this major effort and will ensure its successful completion," said Dr. Joseph Kerschner, MCW's provost and executive vice president and dean of the School of Medicine.

The Medical College of Wisconsin leads an NIH funded regional coalition of academic and clinical institutions, the Clinical Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin, which has been repeatedly cited for its robust community engagement activities. This coalition will facilitate broad participation by all of Milwaukee's diverse communities. The NIH award represents an opportunity to engage populations that have traditionally been underrepresented in biomedical research.

"BloodCenter of Wisconsin's involvement in the All of Us Research Program is a continuation and notable reflection of our collaborative efforts with Wisconsin's scientific and medical community, as we all look to further advance patient care in the future through precision medicine," said Dr. Gilbert White, executive vice president for research, BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

White added that BloodCenter of Wisconsin's scientific and medical research discoveries have made tangible contributions to the care of patients since its founding 70 years ago.