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COVID-19 survey data added to All of Us platform

Mar. 4, 2021, 9:08 AM


by Paul Govern

In December 2020, the federal government’s massive precision medicine research initiative, All of Us (AoU), made available to qualified researchers initial results from its ongoing COVID-19 Participant Experience (COPE) Survey, as well as physical activity and heart rate data collected from Fitbit devices worn by AoU participants.

Launched in May 2018, AoU is an historic effort to gather data from 1 million or more people to accelerate research and improve health. To date, some 370,000 people have agreed to participate.

The program’s secure cloud-based research platform, the Researcher Workbench, was created by a team at the AoU Data and Research Center, led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, working with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Verily Life Sciences (a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.). Paul Harris, PhD, professor of Biomedical Informatics, Biomedical Engineering and Biostatistics, leads the center.

The platform, which is updated with new data twice a year, currently offers health survey data from 316,760 participants and selected electronic health record (EHR) data from 192,000 participants. There are more than 400 projects currently active on the platform. Genomic data, both whole genome sequencing and microarrays, is anticipated for release through a new access tier within the year.

“It’s really fun to see how researchers are interested in combining the various types of data, and how the data types really complement each other,” said Brandy Mapes, translational research manager, Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. “With the release of the COVID survey data, we’re seeing researchers explore longitudinal behaviors or mental health effects from the pandemic.”

Mapes said the DRC has data use agreements with around 300 research organizations, and that around 800 researchers have set up individual accounts under those agreements.

Among VUMC researchers using the platform is urological surgery fellow Connor Forbes, MD.

“Population-level studies on kidney stone disease rely on large databases to understand who gets kidney stones, and why,” Forbes said. “The All of Us research program actively recruits underrepresented patients. This ensures that we have as complete a picture as possible of the disease and its causes.”

Researchers interested in COVID-19 can apply for cloud computing credits for their AoU projects, thanks to a $150,000 grant to AoU from computer technology company Intel Corp. For more information, visit the AoU Research Hub.

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