Academy20

Leveraging genomic data to overcome health challenges

The NIH’s All of Us research program, which is building one of the largest biomedical data resources of its kind, recently released the first genomic dataset of nearly 100,000 whole genome sequences.

Besides this genomic data, the program has also made available information related to electronic health records (EHRs) of many of the All of Us participants, Fitbit devices and survey responses via a cloud-based platform–the Researcher Workbench.

The ultimate goal is: ‘to enable more precise approaches to health care for all populations’. The program hopes that these diverse data resources will enable researchers to solve previously unsolved important questions about human health and disease.

Human body is a universe in itself. While researchers and scientists are busy understanding and solving cosmic mysteries, they are also unraveling the science of the human body. And what lies at the heart of this outward exploration or inward voyage is–data. Exciting time ahead as today we have leapfrog technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to harness the power of data.

According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, all human beings are 99.9 percent identical in their genetic makeup. Differences in the remaining 0.1 percent hold important clues about the causes of diseases. Yes, understanding this 0.1 percent variation in our genome can help scientists in the prediction, prevention, diagnosis as well as treatment of disease.

The NHGRI defines our genome as the operating manual containing all the instructions that helped us develop from a single cell into the person we are today. “It guides your growth, helps your organs to do their jobs, and repairs itself when it becomes damaged. And it’s unique to you. The more you know about your genome and how it works, the more you’ll understand your own health and make informed health decisions”.

Under ‘All of Us Research Program’ health data from a diverse group of participants from across the United States is collected while access is also provided to registered researchers to conduct studies to help improve understanding of human health.

As per the Research Projects Directory presently there are 1,257 active projects. Of many scientific approaches, scientists are also using AI technologies including deep learning to study these datasets in order to overcome health challenges and build a better and efficient health system for today and tomorrow.

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