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National ‘All of Us’ COVID-19 genetics study happening at Banner-UMC

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TUCSON (KVOA) - A national study that focuses on how diseases affect us based on our own genetics is helping healthcare professionals learn more about COVID-19.

The study is called All of Us Research Program and while it has participants from all across the country, much of that research is being done right here in Tucson.

Participants give blood samples and complete surveys that have already helped researchers learn key things about COVID-19.

This research has already helped uncover new ways to treat many different diseases for people based on their genetic make-up.

As we continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have discovered that the virus was already in multiple states before the major U.S. outbreaks in Seattle and New York in 2020.

This had led to more questions that could provide valuable answers.

"What was different about the prevalence, even if it was on the low side here, coupled with what was going on you know in China, in Europe and then led to the pandemic of course, across the country," said Dr. Monica Kraft, Principal Investigator, All of Us research program.

At the University of Arizona banner site, the largest in the study with over 42,000 participants, 80 percent of volunteers are from traditionally underserved groups.

The benefits reach even further than the pandemic for these volunteers by providing invaluable data that can be passed on to future generations.

"The true benefit is that we get to learn about ourselves, about our health. We also receive the option of getting our DNA results in the future, from the program," said Jeanette Peralta, a participant of the study group.

As COVID-19 variants continue to develop, information learned through a large and most importantly, diverse group of volunteers that this program provides, is vital.

This information can provide insight on how to best care for each individual group of people that can be affected by this virus and those in the future.

"There's been a dearth of information about how diseases may present in certain populations and how we can better serve those populations," said Kraft.

Peralta is a participant and also works for the program. Her passion for the work they do is boosted by the positive impact she believes it will have on our future.

"It's for everyone, this is something that will benefit not just one person or one community but it will really benefit everybody as a whole," said Peralta.

If you're interested in getting involved with the All of Us program, click here or call 877-268-2684.