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For So Much Data

With its All of Us Research Program, the US National Institutes of Health hopes to establish an enormous biobank of 1 million Americans that includes their genomic data as well as medical information, survey data, and blood samples, the New York Times reports. Some participants may also wear activity trackers.

The effort was first announced three years ago as the Precision Medicine Initiative's Cohort Program, and it aims to enable personalized medicine by leading to a better understanding of disease. NIH Director Francis Collins tells the Times the biobank will be "transformative."

But the Times adds it will also cost a lot of money, as its 2017 budget comes in at $230 million, which it says has led some to wonder whether the effort is "too ambitious." The Times notes that NIH has partnered with a number of research institutions and companies in the US, including Alphabet's Verily, but that some have like Geisinger and Kaiser Permanente have decided not to take part and have returned grant money due to the program being time consuming and other concerns.

Still, it notes that the All of Us effort differs from smaller ones and ones underway in the UK and elsewhere by its focus on including a diverse sample that is representative of the US population.

The program is to being opened up to wider enrollment this spring.

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