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School & Program Updates

Iowa to Lead National Campaign Educating Americans, Health Care Professionals About Precision Medicine

The University of Iowa is poised to lead a new national campaign to educate Americans and health care professionals about personalized medicine.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), through its National Library of Medicine, awarded the UI $3.6 million over three years to create and distribute educational information for the All of Us Research Program, an NIH-led effort “to gather data over many years from one million or more people living in the United States, with the ultimate goal of accelerating research and improving health,” according to the program’s website.

The UI will be a national coordinating center charged with creating content to prompt people to enroll in the All of Us initiative and to help health care providers — such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and genetic counselors — understand the promise of precision medicine.

The Hardin Library for the Health Sciences will partner with the National Library of Medicine on the funding award, which supplements a $6.5 million award to the Hardin Library in the spring of 2016 to support the National Library of Medicine’s goal to provide U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information and to improve the public’s access to information so citizens can make informed decisions about their health.

Dr. Rema Afifi, professor in the department of community and behavioral health in the University of Iowa College of Public Health; Ms. Linda Walton, associate university librarian and director of the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences; and Dr. Colleen Campbell, assistant director at the Iowa Institute of Human Genetics based in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, are co-principal investigators on the grant.

“We are excited that the University of Iowa will be part of this very important NIH precision-medicine initiative that may ultimately improve the health of all,” says Ms. Walton. “We have put together a strong team to develop the educational component for the All of Us research program, keeping in mind the many different biological, environmental, and behavioral influences that affect our citizenry.”

A primary focus of the new award is to demystify personalized medicine through educational materials, online courses, and seminars for the public and health care professionals. Among the ideas being considered are a traveling photographic exhibit, interactive online games, and various apps for mobile devices.

“We look forward to the opportunity to educate and empower all Americans on precision medicine topics,” says Dr. Campbell. “And, we are very excited to put into action the educational materials and activities we have proposed to help make personalized medicine easy to understand and accessible for the public and health care professionals.”

Other participants are Dr. Edith Parker, professor and chair in the department of community and behavioral health in the College of Public Health; Dr. Liz Hollingworth, professor in the College of Education; Ms. Elizabeth Kiscaden, associate director of the regional medical library at the Hardin Library; and Dr. Richard Smith, director of the Iowa Institute of Human Genetics.