A traveling exhibit to raise awareness about and recruit volunteers for a national research initiative that seeks health information from a million Americans will stop over the next two weeks in Omaha and Grand Island.

The National Institutes of Health launched its unprecedented All of Us program in 2015 to gather genetic, biological, environmental, health and lifestyle data that researchers can tap to learn more about how differences in those factors can influence health and disease. The ultimate goal is to use that information to prevent and treat diseases in an approach known as precision medicine.

But first, they need to reach “all of us.”

The All of Us Journey comprises two mobile units that are traveling across the country in partnership with various organizations, including the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. The University of Nebraska Medical Center and community partners are hosting the Nebraska stops in conjunction with the alliance.

Jane Delgado, the alliance’s president and CEO, said the outreach is intended to ensure that the initiative is based on good science. In the past, Hispanics, African Americans, women and older people have felt that they were not well-represented in scientific research.

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Reaching out to the Hispanic community is key, she said, because some of the group’s health outcomes are different than those of other groups.

“It’s the first major step the NIH is taking ... to get us towards personalized medicine, which is the holy grail we’re all working toward,” Delgado said. “This is so important for all of us. It’s really going to change the discussion.”

Participants, who must be at least 18, will complete a series of confidential questionnaires online, providing information including demographic, lifestyle and health behaviors. They will also provide — in private rooms — physical measurements and biological samples such as blood and urine. The bus also offers a virtual reality experience that demonstrates how medical breakthroughs have made a difference in the world.

The research bus’s first stop will be Tuesday through Friday at Metropolitan Community College’s South Campus at 2909 Edward “Babe” Gomez Ave. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.

It’s also important that the project is tapping the Midwest, said Athena Ramos, an assistant professor in the UNMC College of Public Health’s Department of Health Promotion and Center for Reducing Health Disparities. Such studies often focus on coastal populations.

“Even bringing it here physically to Nebraska is a really great step in the right direction,” she said.

Hours for the Grand Island stop, at 1137 S. Locust St., are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 21 and 23, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 22, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 24.

Julie Anderson is a medical reporter for The World-Herald. She covers health care and health care trends and developments, including hospitals, research and treatments. Follow her on Twitter @JulieAnderson41. Phone: 402-444-1066.

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