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

Feb. 16, 2022

The All of Us Research Program UArizona-Banner will allow researchers to better address health disparities in underrepresented populations.


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,” said 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. 


Carrie Whitten Simmons