The All of Us precision medicine initiative aims to recruit a million Americans to sign up for a program that will not only gather all sorts of medical data about them but will also follow them for at least a decade, possibly much longer. While their electronic health records could end up in huge databases, the physical samples of blood and urine will end up in an industrial park in Rochester, Minnesota.
In a recent NPR article, Mine Cicek, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic, provided the author with a tour of the vast building with more than an acre and a half of floor space. "This used to be an old warehouse, but when we moved in three to four years ago, we really built a laboratory, and it's in the space," she says. Dr. Cicek processes samples for the All of Us program.
According to the article, currently, the project is limited to pilot studies, with fewer than 100 samples a day coming off the UPS and FedEx trucks to be sorted, centrifuged, and ultimately plunged in the deep freeze. But when the operation is fully up to speed, the lab may receive specimens from a thousand participants a day.
When everything is up and running, Dr. Cicek says, the incoming tubes of blood will be processed by a fully automated system. All she'll have to do is pick up boxes of samples and feed them into this freezer.
Read the full article to learn more about the process and information behind the program.