All of Us Research Study

Local News
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Did you inherit a gene that makes you achy when you take drugs to lower your cholesterol? Could your genetics make you more likely to develop macular degeneration?

A new  study by UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health could help answer those questions.

WTAJ Evening Anchors John Clay and Amanda Kenney, and Chief Meteorologist Joe Murgo were among the first locally to enroll in the All of Us Pennsylvania Research Project.

They underwent measurements at UPMC Station Medical in Altoona and gave blood and urine samples.Their family medical histories will also be part of the data  being collected in Pennsylvania.
But much of the  research going forward will focus  on the  blood samples they’re contributing.

“The goal is basically to look at the building blocks or the genomics that are behind what makes us us,” said Dr. David Burwell, VP Quality & Compliance, UPMC Altoona, and he continued, “We’re going to look at our whole humane genome sequence and basically look for insights as far as what causes certain diseases.”

That’s what drew our crew to the all of us project.

Joe said, “It helps to inform myself about things that might be in my blood, but I think about it’s also doing a service to not ust my family, my daughters, but down the road if the medical community gets this information, two three generations down the road, I may have helped save a life.”

And John added, “I do know there are some health issues in my family in the past and I’d be very interested to see if there are any kind of markers. It sounds like we’re going to get genetic markers for you might be susceptible to this or that kind of thing.”

According to Dr. Burwell, with what’s already known about the genome, you could find out from your All of Us results, that you’d have a bad reaction to cholesterol lowering drugs, or that a certain type of blood-thinning medication  won’t work for you.

You may have genetic markers more common in people that develop the blinding eye disease, macular  degeneration, dementia, or certain types of cancer or diabetes.

The data could also eventually determine  why some diseases  are more common in people in our area.

Dr. Burwell said, “In the Blair County region, we know that we have a significantly high rate of diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, so we know that we would like to look for inferences in those factors.”

Researchers would really like you to join the study if  these conditions or others seem to be common in your family.

In the second phase of the study they  hope to use their findings to advance precision medical  care,  developing treatments  for an individual, based on their genome.

Amanda said she’s in because, “It  sounds pretty incredible because we’re going to be able to not only help our families in the future but you know help people all over the country.”
For more information on taking part in the study go to or call (412)383-2737

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