Hispanic Americans have higher levels of diabetes and less access to health care services, yet they live on average about three years longer than non-Hispanic whites and six years longer than African-Americans.
No one really knows. Hispanics are underrepresented in both clinical trials and the genome-wide association studies.
This is just one example of the growing body of research suggesting that we must begin to tailor medical care to individual characteristics. But one-size-fits-all medicine still predominates today, in part because most clinical trials and other studies fail to reflect the diversity of Americans, even as we enter a new era in which the principles of personalized medicine are reshaping our understanding of health care.
Besides interfering with the goals of science and medicine, research that doesn’t reflect the diversity of the U.S. is also bad for the business of health. Clinical trials of “enriched populations,” meaning populations that include individuals who share particular biomarkers, may lead to faster and less-expensive clinical trials.
There is no single solution to the problem. But the NIH’s recently launched All of Us Research Program is a good start. Building a national cohort of 1 million or more Americans that reflects the rich diversity of the American population is a hallmark of the federal effort to accelerate research in personalized medicine.
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