I furled my umbrella and passed the registration desk without stopping. As directed by email, I took the elevator to the third floor, bypassed another registration desk, and followed a young woman through a maze of hallways. Her desk held a tape measure, a blood pressure cuff, and a rack of eight or ten vials with brightly colored caps. An hour later I opened the umbrella and stepped back into the rain, lighter by several tablespoons of bodily fluids. My doctor would never know unless I decided to tell her.
All of Us is a nationwide program to support medical research about interactions among environment, lifestyle, and genetics. Organizers aim to build a data base of a million adult volunteers who give researchers anonymous access to their medical records. Now that I’ve donated specimens and measurements, my role is to answer occasional surveys online. I’m always free to opt out.
Part of life is finding ways to contribute that fit one’s interests, skills, and opportunities, whether organizing a petition drive or feeding a hungry kitten. In this time of widespread distrust of science, one small way I can help is to be one of a million whose data researchers can draw on for years to come.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.