A national exhibit raising awareness for a research program on American’s health will make a stop at the Tooele City Library on Thursday and Friday.
The interactive traveling exhibit from the National Institute of Health — the All of Us research program — will make three stops in Utah as it traverses the nation, gathering health and lifestyle information. The Tooele City Library is the first stop, followed by the Day-Riverside Branch of the Salt Lake City Library and the West Valley City Branch of the Salt Lake County Library.
The local exhibit will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days, with the final program enrollment at 5 p.m. daily.
The mobile exhibit includes a virtual reality experience to teach people about the impact of medical breakthroughs, a waiting area for volunteers to sign up for the program, private rooms for physical measurements and biosamples and an interactive station where participants can write a note or share with others their inspiration for joining the program, according to a news release.
“The future of health begins with education and information,” said Tooele City Library Director Jami Carter. “If we want better health care for all of us, medical research needs to include all of us.”
The chief purpose of the exhibit is to gather information from 1 million volunteers nationwide, including where they live, what they do and their family health history. The goal is to create a research resource that could inform thousands of studies on a wide range of health conditions, the release said.
Participants share health records and complete a survey, and may also contribute body measurements, as well as blood and urine samples. Personal identifying information, such as names or addresses, will be removed from all data, and samples will be stored in a secure biobank, according to the NIH program.
Unlike many research studies that focus on a population already afflicted with a particular illness, the All of Us program will include health information on those both healthy and sick, from a variety of backgrounds. With more than one million participants, the program will be one of the largest health databases of its kind, representing participants from all backgrounds and walks of life.
The Tooele City Library was able to secure the exhibit through its relationship with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, which has a regional office at the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library at the University of Utah, according to Carter. Compared to the West Valley City and Salt Lake City library branches, Tooele gives a more rural population base from which the Utah data is collected.
Different populations face different challenges, with urban populations dealing with higher pollution and other challenges, and rural communities having unique challenges, Carter said. Looking at the data from the standpoint of health instead of illness is another benefit, she said.
“I love that they’re looking at this from this perspective,” Carter said.
Anyone worried about the collection of medical data or who doesn’t want to participate in that part of the exhibit doesn’t have to, according to Carter. She said no one attending the exhibit will be pressured into participating and can still benefit from the information on display.
“Tooele City Library is excited for this opportunity to bring the All of Us Research Program to Tooele,” she said. “This national effort can bolster research, bring communities together, and help change health for generations. Come share, learn, and enjoy this exhibit.”