In part four of our About Science and Research with All of Us, we are going to get an education about what’s commonly known as DNA. 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 will be sharing with us how the All of Us Research Program will help you learn more about your DNA.
Milwaukee Times: Dr. Easter, first, what is DNA?
Dr. Bashir Easter: DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic acid. It’s the material that makes up genes and an important source of health information. The All of Us Research Program wants to help advance health research. One way we plan to do this is by studying DNA.
Milwaukee Times: What can you learn from studying DNA?
Dr. Bashir Easter: By studying DNA and other information from All of Us participants, researchers could potentially identify what makes people more or less likely to develop a disease; find out how environment, lifestyle, and genes can impact health; and build better tools for detecting health conditions and encouraging healthy habits. If you provide your blood or saliva samples to All of Us, specially trained scientists at our Genome Centers will generate DNA data from your sample. Our Genome Centers are highly advanced labs that use the latest technology to study and analyze participants’ DNA. Incidentally, I knew I was lactose intolerant, but my DNA results actually showed me that on paper. It was exciting to confirm.
Milwaukee Times: What if I don’t want my DNA?
Dr. Bashir Easter: When you join All of Us, you sign a consent. By joining, you agree to let researchers study your DNA if you provide it. It’s your choice whether you want to get your DNA results. Those results may include things like ancestry, or where your family comes from; traits, like whether you can digest milk; whether you may have a higher risk of developing some conditions; or how your body may respond to certain medications. You will be able to talk with a genetic counselor from our Genetic Counseling Resource about your DNA results.
Milwaukee Times: Dr. Easter, this all sounds so interesting. What will you have for us next week?
Dr. Bashir Easter: Next week, we’ll talk about the research of All of Us. One thing to specifically point out is that All of Us is a research program and does not provide medical tests for medical treatment or diagnosis. Our focus is on what we can learn from DNA to help speed up health research discoveries.
Do your own research about the All of Us Research Program nationally, by going to www.joinallofus.org, visiting our All of Us MKE Facebook page or calling (414) 882-1376.