It’s in our DNA: ScienceWorks event dives into ‘All of Us’ drive to collect public health data

An All of Us staff member places recently collected biosamples in a test tube rack. NIH photo
September 27, 2022

Afternoon festivities lead into a presentation and discussion, followed by separate renewal of ‘Star Parties’

By Bert Etling, Ashland.news

What makes people tick? A Saturday afternoon of fun, food and fascination at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland leads into a pair of presentations on the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program, an ambitious initiative to engage one million people or more who reflect the diversity of our country and have historically been underrepresented in health research.

Dubbed “The All of Us Experience: Learn, Discover, and Unleash Your Inner Genome,” festivities starting at 2 p.m. are set to include food trucks, refreshments, hands-on activities and exhibits.

At 5 p.m., Karen Buenrosto and Margaret M. Farrell, a pair of “virtual ambassadors”  from the National Institutes of Health, will make an appearance to talk about “All of Us,” the world’s biggest precision health initiative, intended to help individuals understand their DNA and unique human genome and how it affects ancestry and precision medicine. 

The All of Us Research Program is a historic effort to collect and study data from a million ethnically geographically diverse participants that can be used in thousands of scientific studies on a variety of health conditions. All of Us is working to improve individualized health care for the patient, the provider and the researcher through the development and availability of a large public data set.

At 5:45 p.m., a live expert panel of Rogue Valley health experts will have a discussion focusing on genomics and precision medicine.

Alan Oppenheimer

Panel members are Dr. Steven Hersch, administrator of Asante Ashland Community Hospital; Dr. Andy Kuzmitz, a retired physician serving on the ScienceWorks Advisory Board; Carolina Livi, Ph.D., an affiliate professor of biology at Southern Oregon University; and Alan Oppenheimer, president of the Ashland-based Alan and Priscilla Oppenheimer Foundation, which is underwriting the event. Founded in 2007 with his wife, Priscilla, the foundation seeks to advance humanity through scientific research and education, with a current focus on personalized medicine and genomics.

Both panels will also be streamed live for those who like to follow the discussion online. Links to join are on this page.

“It’s never been a more important time in history to understand what makes each of us truly unique,” according to the ScienceWorks announcement, which encourages the whole community to come out for “lots of engaging activities” during “a fun and interactive learning event for museum visitors like you to learn, discover, and unleash your inner genome!”

The event is set to run from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at ScienceWorks, 1500 E. Main St. Entry to this event will be free with paid admission (adult, $12.50; child, $10.50) or membership (starts at $25; more info here).

The event also kick starts the month-long ScienceWorks Health Awareness initiative, including events focusing on what it takes for humans to survive in space, as shown through planning for NASA’s Artemis mission to the moon; and “Halloween at ScienceWorks,” in memory of Sarah Wood, “celebrating Halloween and raising awareness for Glioblastoma cancer research in our community and beyond.”

For additional details, notifications and freebies, go to scienceworksmuseum.org/AllofUs or call ScienceWorks at 541-482-6767.

Also Saturday: ‘Observe the Moon Night Star Party’

On the heels of the “All of Us” event but separate, the Southern Oregon Skywatchers host an International Observe the Moon Night Star Part at ScienceWorks from 7 to 10 p.m.

Community members are invited to attend the free public event. NASA’s International Observe the Moon Night is an annual event encouraging science enthusiasts of all ages to join scientists in observing the moon.

Members of Southern Oregon Skywatchers will be present with their telescopes to showcase lunar features for members of the public and to observe planets and other celestial elements.

The event will mark a return to ScienceWorks hosting Star Parties. In the event that the sky is not clear enough to host a party, or in case of smoke, the event will be rescheduled. Information regarding rescheduling will be sent on ScienceWorks Facebook page with as much advance notice as possible.

The goals of International Observe the Moon Night include uniting people across the globe in celebration of science, exploration, and lunar observation and raising awareness of NASA’s lunar science and exploration programs.

International Observe the Moon Night occurs annually in September or October, when the Moon is around the first quarter. This phase offers excellent viewing opportunities along the terminator (the line between night and day), where shadows enhance the Moon’s cratered landscape.

ScienceWorks is planning more Star Parties and an event to celebrate the Artemis Mission’s lunar landing later in fall 2022.

With a return to regular events and programming, ScienceWorks is in need of volunteers. High school and college students and adults of all ages who have an interest in supporting their community through volunteering and who enjoy meeting others and participating in projects can email volunteers@scienceworksmuseum.org.

Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at betling@ashland.news or call or text him at 541-631-1313.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.
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