The nearly 200,000 Americans who have trusted federal scientists with their DNA, their medical records, and detailed behavioral surveys will soon begin to receive the results of a genetic analysis performed by the National Institutes of Health, the agency announced [August 21].
The announcement marks a long-touted milestone for the NIH’s unprecedented “All of Us” precision medicine project. To date, researchers say, no government study has returned individualized genetic data to participants — especially one so large and diverse. The data will provide participants a deeper look into their own ancestry and genetic traits, their genetic predisposition to certain diseases, and, potentially, genetic factors that could impact the effectiveness of prescription drugs. NIH will also offer a more in-depth genetic counseling service to all study participants, and urge it for those who have a genetic factor that could impact their health care.
In the coming years, the NIH hopes to catalogue 1 million participants’ DNA and other health data. The project eventually aims to allow researchers to access anonymized, open-source data, potentially revealing population trends and previously unknown genetic information.
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