As we wrap of this set of interviews about the All of Us Research Program, we want to focus on how All of Us has already had an impact during the pandemic. Bashir Easter, Ph.D., Assistant Director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison All of Us team at the Center for Community Engagement and Health Partnerships in Milwaukee has that conversation with us.
Milwaukee Times: Dr. Easter, last week we talked about how All of Us is a research program and not just a study. Can you tell us what impact the program is having related to COVID-19? Dr. Bashir Easter: The scale and diversity of All of Us puts it in a unique spot to help COVID-19 research efforts. The program is helping in three ways. First, antibody testing. We have tested samples from participants who joined in early 2020 to help researchers better understand the origins and spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. Milwaukee Times: Understanding that has been crucial to the African American community. What’s the second way All of Us is helping?
Dr. Bashir Easter: Our COVID-19 survey. We are surveying all participants about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic with our COVID-19 Participant Experience (COPE) survey. The survey includes physical and mental health, employment and income, and substance use questions. The impact of COVID-19 can be found around the world, but it isn’t affecting everyone equally. As you just mentioned with the African-American community, some groups of people are being hit harder than others. It’s important to find out why. Research like the COPE survey can help.
Milwaukee Times: Finally, what’s the third way All of Us is helping in COVID-19 research?
Dr. Bashir Easter: With Electronic Health Records data standards. We are gathering COVID-19 information from participants’ electronic health records. This data might help researchers learn more about symptoms and related health problems. The records might also reveal the effects of different drugs and treatments.
Milwaukee Times: Dr. Easter, thank you for this important series that allowed us to learn more about All of Us. Is there anything else you want to add before we sign off.
Dr. Bashir Easter: We will definitely be back, but for now, check out our All of Us MKE Facebook page for upcoming details about our Addressing Systemic Racism series. Last year, on Juneteenth, we launched our series, and on June 18, 2021 from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m., we are bringing back our original panel under the topic, “Addressing Systemic Racism: One Year Later. Where Are We Now?” The panelists are the following:
• Dr. Patricia McManus, Co-Founder and President & CEO of the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, Inc.
• Sheri Johnson, Ph.D., Director, UW Madison Population Health Institute
• Beverly Hutcherson, M.S., Administrative Director, The Ladder at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health
Visit our All of Us MKE Facebook page for the Zoom link, which is coming soon. Then, do your own research about the All of Us Research Program there and then nationally, by going to www.joinallofus.org. You can also call us at (414) 882-1376.