Increasing Diversity in Research to Address Health Disparities in Arizona’s African American Communities

The All of Us Research Program University of Arizona-Banner Health is creating one of the most diverse databases of health information, which will allow researchers to better understand and address health disparities in underrepresented populations.

Carrie Whitten Simmons
All of Us Research Program, UArizona-Banner

TUCSON, Ariz. — African American people have higher risks for many common diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. During the pandemic, health disparities became even more evident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  African American people are 1.7 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than non-Hispanic white people. Research will help us better understand these disparities, but when health research does not include certain communities, it is incomplete. 

In the past, African Americans and other racial and ethnic groups have been excluded from some research studies and exploited in others.  

“Research has shown that African Americans are underrepresented in clinical trials and health research. When people are left out of research, doctors know less about how diseases and medication impact them,” says Angela Allen, PhD, associate nurse clinical research program director at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix and co-chair of the All of Us Research Program University of Arizona-Banner Health Participant Engagement Board. “The All of Us Research Program is working to amend this underrepresentation by building one of the largest and most diverse databases that researchers can access to study how genetics, environment and lifestyle affect our health.” 

Health care providers and researchers are continually asking questions that will allow them to personalize health care for specific needs, and now they have a place to look for answers. The All of Us Research Program is creating one of the world’s largest and most diverse resources of health information so researchers can study better ways to prevent, manage and treat disease. 

“When you have health information on a large group of individuals who are diverse, you can start to study the disease prevalence in a community,” said Jason Karnes, PharmD, PhD, BCPS, FAHA, director of scientific programs for All of Us UArizona-Banner and an associate professor in the UArizona R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy. 

By studying data from a diverse group of people, researchers can learn more about what makes people sick or keeps them healthy. According to the CDC, the death rate for African American people fell by 25% from 1999 to 2015. Research that included African American people helped make this change, but more work needs to be done. 

The All of Us Research Program is inviting participants to join researchers looking for answers to some of the community’s toughest health questions. Almost 50,000 people in Arizona have shared their health data to support scientists in their quest to speed up health research. Nationwide, nearly 320,000 people have joined and completed the initial enrollment steps. The participants reflect the rich diversity of the United States with 50% from racial and ethnic communities that have traditionally been underrepresented in health research. 

The next health discovery could come from Arizona’s African American community. Learn about yourself and your health, at no cost. For more information, visit or call (877) 268-2684. 

The University of Arizona-Banner Health Program is supported under the National Institutes of Health All of Us Research Program funding award OT2OD026549 with previous awards UG3OD023171-01 and UG3OD023171-01S1 and the CEAL funding award OT2-HL156812.   

“All of Us” and the All of Us logo are registered service marks of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).  

For more information, visit and For Arizona news, visit or Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @AllofUsAZ.

About Banner Health: Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 30 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, Banner Medical Group, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services, including Banner Urgent Care, family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information visit

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences  
Located on campuses in Tucson and Phoenix, the University of Arizona Health Sciences is one of the top-ranked academic medical centers in the southwestern United States. UArizona Health Sciences includes the College of Medicine – Phoenix, College of Medicine – Tucson, College of Nursing, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy. In addition, 12 UArizona Health Sciences centers and programs focus on cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, pain and addiction, and respiratory diseases; biomedical informatics, health technology innovation and simulation training; and precision health care and health disparities. A leader in next-generation education, biomedical research and public outreach, UArizona Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners more than $220 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).  

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