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ScienceWorks to host event celebrating human genome

For half a day, from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, visitors to ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum can enjoy food trucks and interactive exhibits while gaining a deeper understanding of the diversity of the human genome.

The All of Us Research Program is an ambitious endeavor to collect and study data from 1 million ethnically and geographically diverse people in order to better understand the human genome.

Saturday’s event, sponsored by the Alan & Priscilla Oppenheimer Foundation, hopes to raise awareness of this research project, increase the diversity of its participants and, by extension, improve its effectiveness, said Alan Oppenheimer, co-founder of the foundation.

“Historically, genomic analysis, by accident more than anything else, has focused on white men,” he said.

The project was initiated by the Obama administration with the intent to give doctors the data they need to practice precision medicine, he explained, meaning to create more intuitive, personalized plans of care for each patient.

Both Oppenheimer and his wife have been longtime participants, along with some of their friends and colleagues. But for the project to be successful in its lofty aims, it has to have participants from as many ethnicities and regions as possible. Oppenheimer said his foundation hopes this event will raise awareness.

“By raising awareness, we hope to make precision medicine better. By having the Rogue Valley and our unique diversity represented in this database, it will make precision medicine better for literally all of us. We want to help individuals, and we want to help the country at large,” he said.

An ambassador from the All of Us program will be on site to deliver a special presentation, along with other experts, some in person and some via Zoom. Oppenheimer said he was excited to offer Zoom to those who may not be able to get to ScienceWorks to attend the event in person.

To register to attend via Zoom, see https://scienceworksmuseum.org/allofus/.

Those attending the event will learn about how to get involved, but there will be no sample collection at this event, Oppenheimer said. He said he hopes this event will be the first of many, and maybe future events can include sample collection.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at mrothborne@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.