Research on personalized medicine may help COVID-19 treatments

All of Us program seeks to end health disparities which have affected Blacks and Latinos with COVID-19 in Wisconsin and nationwide

By Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio

A nationwide research project to advance personalized medicine could end up playing a role in the development of COVID-19 treatments, the project’s leaders in Wisconsin say, and even address racial disparities in outcomes among coronavirus patients.

The nationwide All of Us Research Program aims to tailor medical treatments of all kinds, including treatments that may be developed for the new coronavirus. So far more than 271,000 people nationwide have signed up to share data with the initiative. All of Us started under President Barack Obama in 2018 and involves institutions across the country, including the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Medical College of Wisconsin, Gunderson Health System and Marshfield Clinic.

Half of the participants who have enrolled are from racial and ethnic minority groups.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our participants to have a direct impact on COVID-19 research, watching how their participation in this historic effort is truly making a difference,” said Dr. Elizabeth Burnside, co-principal investigator of All of Us at UW-Madison, and a UW Health physician. “This focused initiative could be especially important for members of communities that are often underrepresented in health research and who may question the overall and personal benefit of research participation.”

Black people are dying at a higher rate from COVID-19 in Wisconsin, making up nearly a quarter of the COVID-19 deaths even though they make up less than 7 percent of the state’s population. Latinos have also been adversely affected, accounting for 12 percent of the state’s 833 deaths from the virus. Read more …