Bakersfield hosts “The All of Us Journey”

Melissa Puryear, Managing Editor

Bakersfield was the 6th city on the tour calendar this year for The All of Us Journey, an interactive mobile unit on wheels, which houses demonstration segments about Precision Medicine (PM).

The “Journey” is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was locally hosted by The National Alliance for Hispanic Health at Maya Cinemas, on Jan. 25. The educational exhibit gave the public an opportunity to learn more by witnessing some of the cutting-edge research that PM has accomplished. This is designed to be the largest collaborative research effort with hopes of surpassing one million participants during the tour.

According to Diane Beltran, Senior Program Director, “The All of Us Journey launched August of 2017. In 2017 the journey visited 17 states and 33 different ‘markets’… The All of Us Journey will continue to be on the west coast until March 11th.”

Participant’s information could inform researchers about the optimal route to prevention and cure of injury and disease. Furthermore, “Researchers will have access to an unprecedented amount of data that can lead to medical breakthroughs. By studying patterns in the data, researchers can begin to identify why people respond to treatments differently,” according to NIHs website.

NIHs goal is to educate and promote a better, smarter, more intuitive health paradigm based upon the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) which, according to Oscar Trinidad, a representative for NIH, who attended the Bakersfield event, the Obama Administration introduced.  Trinidad said that the tour is intended for educational purposes and to gather medical information from those who wish to participate in the research program. He said the cohort study will remain ongoing and there is no fee to participate in the study.

PM involves the study of the influences of environment, diet and the genetics of a person, and how that can have an effect on a person’s health. Armed with this information, researchers can develop ways to help doctors create an individualized care plan based on the needs of each person.

From stem cell science that can encourage regenerative tissue in a compromised heart, and a person’s own immune cells eradicating cancer and other various diseases, the use of research and care combined together, can mean enhanced, prolonged, and healthier lives.

Trinidad said, “In the broad spectrum of healthcare, it’s not really applied, [PM] and what we’re trying to do is collect a bunch of data from a million people, is our goal. This cohort study will be an on-going one where each participant will remain with the study, so that data can be collected over a sustained period of time. Currently the program is in Phase 1, in which an educational team travels for the first year across America, in order to educate the public about the All of Us Journey and benefits of PM.”

The mobile unit which will travel across America during 2018, will allow participants who attend the event to fill out a questionnaire. They will be taken on a hands-on, visually-aided tour and presentation of the mobile unit. The unit features a short film which informs attendees about the benefits of participating in the program. At the end of the tour, the public will get an opportunity to create an account where they will be able to complete their registration for the cohort study. This event didn’t require participants to provide any DNA, according to Trinidad.

Once the participant completes their questionnaire at the event, they will get a follow-up call from the nearest local center that will schedule a date and time in which the participant’s body will be measured, a swab of the mouth will be done, and a blood and urine sample will be taken, according to Trinidad.

Trinidad said that the turnout for Bakersfield was promising.