Additional Voices highlights from the Summer 2019 Learning Connections


Historic ‘All of Us’ project creating largest health database ever

Dorothy Farrar Edwards is helping lead UW-Madison’s participation in the nationwide All of Us Research Program, an effort to compile the largest representative medical database ever to accelerate research and improve health.

Dorothy Farrar Edwards
Dorothy Farrar Edwards
In an effort to better reflect the full diversity of the United States, a major aim of this initiative is to include and gather information from populations that are too often missing in health research. The program welcomes healthy and sick participants ages 18-and-over of all backgrounds, and from all regions of the nation.

By collecting robust health, demographic, and lifestyle information, researchers can better understand health, and the prevention and treatment of disease.

“This program is an exciting, unique opportunity for everyone to play an active role in modern medicine for the benefit of future generations,” says Farrar Edwards, a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of occupational therapy with the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology. She has dedicated much of her career to researching the cultural, physical, genetic, and lifestyle factors that lead to range of health conditions that have disparate effects on different populations. Farrar Edwards also holds appointments with the departments of Medicine and Neurology in the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH).

As director of the Collaborative Center for Health Equity in the UW-Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Farrar Edwards has contributed to significant advances in the care of minority, immigrant, and tribal communities in Wisconsin.

But there is much more work to be done and Farrar Edwards says that’s a key reason she helped push for UW-Madison’s involvement in the All of Us Research Program. The National Institutes of Health chose the Wisconsin consortium — comprised of UW-Madison, Marshfield Clinic, the Blood Center of Wisconsin, and the Medical College of Wisconsin — as one of 10 participating centers nationwide.

Farrar Edwards and Dr. Elizabeth Burnside, associate dean for team science and interdisciplinary research at SMPH, serve as co-principal investigators for UW-Madison’s site. Farrar Edwards also leads community engagement for the statewide All of Us Wisconsin Consortium.

Participants are asked to share their electronic health records, submit blood and urine samples, and answer questions about their health habits and their home and work life.

Learn more and get involved at:

On Wisconsin spotlights Diversity Dialogues

On Wisconsin, UW-Madison’s alumni magazine, ran a cover story this spring headlined, “Room for Debate: in a polarized world, UW-Madison fosters tough conversations.”

Cover of Spring 2019 On Wisconsin magazineThe article explains how different groups at UW-Madison are actively seeking, encouraging, and developing the ability to discuss difficult topics — and not just politics. Among those efforts highlighted is the Diversity Dialogues work of the School of Education’s Department of Counseling Psychology.

Started almost 15 years ago, the program is designed to foster greater equality, inclusion, and understanding across differences. On Wisconsin explains how diversity Dialogues is used as a conversational platform for students from different racial, ethnic, gender, and class backgrounds.

Professor Steve Quintana, who directs the Diversity Dialogues program and is chair of the Department of Counseling Psychology, tells On Wisconsin that the primary objective of this group is the help students recognize that all people are “living rich, interesting, and complex lives.”

Quintana and others act as facilitators, giving participants different cues and helping to maintain a respectful balance.

Participants later shared that engaging in Diversity Dialogues made them feel more flexible and open. Quintana tells On Wisconsin that getting new “windows into the depths of people’s experience is rewarding.”

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