BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Imagine if you could avoid getting sick long before your first symptom. That’s something UAB researchers are trying to do — preventing illness by learning more about you.

UAB Medicine wants Alabamians to sign up for the groundbreaking study called “All of Us.” It’s part of a nationwide research program run by the National Institutes of Health.

“The real goal is to be able know who is at risk for disease and who isn’t, what specific things are they at risk for so that they can be appropriately monitored and ultimately treated,” said Dr. Bruce Korf, Associate Dean for Genomic Medicine at UAB.

With their research, Korf hopes that medical treatment can one day be tailored to each specific patient in what’s known as precision medicine.

“If we understand better what causes [disease], we’ll have better opportunities to treat them,” Korf said.

The study is recruiting one million participants nationwide. Currently, around 700,000 have signed up, and researchers want more people from Alabama.

“It is critically important for places like Alabama that do have a substantial number of people who have been historically underrepresented,” Korf said.

It starts with information. Researchers need your electronic health records, some basic body measurements, a blood and urine sample and some online surveys.

Then, the study can reveal things about your ancestry and — most importantly — if you’re at risk for 59 genes for cancer and heart disease.

“That information potentially can be lifesaving,” Korf said.

Korf emphasized that participants’ records and information are kept secure and private. Joining is free, and participants will get paid $25 for the time it takes to take the tests.

If you’d like to sign up, go to or call 833-JOIN UAB.