Health workers and researchers play a vital role in keeping Arizona communities, especially those in rural and underserved areas, safe and healthy, and the pandemic has brought their dedication to the forefront of public consciousness. The All of Us Research Program University of Arizona-Banner Health created the “Arizona Health Champion” award series to honor the work of health care heroes and presented the inaugural award to Karen Lutrick, PhD.
An initiative of the National Institutes of Health, the All of Us Research Program in Arizona and northern Colorado, led by the University of Arizona Health Sciences and Banner Health, aims to build one of the largest and most diverse databases of health information to improve health for future generations.
Dr. Lutrick, an assistant professor of family and community medicine at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson, focuses her research on health disparities and wellness in the Hispanic/Latino community. Over the past two years, she has devoted most of her time and energy to the Arizona Healthcare, Emergency and Other Essential Workers Surveillance (AZ HEROES) study to better understand COVID-19 infection and reinfection rates, and vaccine efficacy.
“I’m honored to receive this award and want to point out that this is a team effort made possible by dedicated faculty, staff and students who work tirelessly on COVID-19 research projects. Community partners and participants have made enormous contributions to supporting these scientific advances in our understanding of COVID-19,” said Dr. Lutrick, an AZ HEROES co-investigator. “It is vital to ensure all communities are represented in this research, especially with the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities that experience health disparities in Arizona.”
Approximately 4,000 essential workers, including health care professionals, first responders, food service workers, educators and more, are participating in AZ HEROES. By tracking participants over time, the study has helped scientists gain a better understanding of COVID-19 and vaccine rates and efficacy across a diverse community. Early AZ HEROES results published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that participants who were fully vaccinated were 90% less likely to get infected with the coronavirus than those who were not vaccinated.
“It is a true honor to recognize Dr. Lutrick and the significance her work holds for our communities,” said Jennifer Craig-Muller, director of All of Us UArizona-Banner. “The AZ HEROES project has been able to answer important questions about the effectiveness of vaccines in the real world. The All of Us team was proud to work with Dr. Lutrick and support her as she assisted in the implementation of this COVID-19 research study early in the pandemic.”
All of Us UArizona-Banner’s “Arizona Health Champion” award series aims to recognize health professionals and educators, community partners working with underserved communities in health access and education, and health researchers, especially those dedicated to increasing diversity in research. There are currently more than 1,000 studies happening using All of Us Research Program’s de-identified participant data. Researchers are studying how factors such as genetics, environment and lifestyle affect how diseases and medications impact individuals. All of Us UArizona-Banner currently leads the country in enrollment with more than 48,000 participants.
To learn more or enroll, visit AllofUsAZ.org or call 877-268-2684. For more information, visit JoinAllofUs.org and allofus.nih.gov. For Arizona news, visit AllofUsAZ.org or Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @AllofUsAZ.
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).