The U. S government is currently seeking one million people from all walks of life willing to share their DNA, environment, and health habits with researchers. The goal is to evaluate how lifestyle changes our genes.

This ambitious 1.45 billion dollar study by the NIH will give new and valuable information on the importance of lifestyle factors in health. Frances Collins, director of the NIH, describes the All of US Research Program as “A national adventure that is going to transform medical care.”

We know that stress from certain lifestyle habits can age our genes. Pending our genetic hardware, these stressors eventually may cause damage with the resulting symptoms. The terms telomere shortening and methylation are just some of the mechanisms that attempt to explain these changes. Our current medical system focuses on evaluating symptoms and treating them.

This study hopes to quantitate the role of various lifestyle factors on physiology. Why do some people stay healthy despite smoking, poor nutrition, or other environmental stressors? Could lifestyle changes be more important than medications? How do nutritional interventions, and mental stress change our genetics? I am particularly interested in the physiology of worship.

This NIH study aims to be the largest and most diverse of its kind. This study will need to enroll a diverse group and plans to follow one million for ten years. I applaud those initiating this important study. This study has enrolled 25,000 to date. Finding those one million to study will be no easy task. This is a story we will want to follow.