Federal taxpayers are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a quest for blood samples, medical information and fitness readouts from a million Americans. It's called the All of Us precision medicine initiative, and it's the biggest push ever mounted to create a huge public pool of data that scientists — and anybody else who is interested — can mine for clues about health and disease.
Proponents say this big data approach to medicine will be revolutionary. Critics aren't so sure.
The plan is to recruit a million Americans to sign up for a program that will not only gather all sorts of medical data about them but will also follow them for at least a decade, possibly much longer. Their electronic medical records could end up in huge databases. The physical samples of blood and urine will end up in an industrial park in Rochester, Minn.
Mine Cicek, an assistant professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the Mayo Clinic, leads me into a vast building with more than an acre and a half of floor space. "This...