Principal All of Us participants are Froedtert Hospital, Medical College of Wisconsin, Marshfield Clinic Health System, University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health, and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin. Vanderbilt University Medical Center will lead the program’s national data and research center.
“The All of Us Research Program is an opportunity to finally get more information on people of color,” says Dr. Michael Minor. “We will collect information and collaborate with researchers. We believe the diversity of the people will help get to the bottom of some of the diseases that disproportionately affect us.”
His message to worshipers includes questions that compel self-examination. Minor says, “When I speak at churches, I ask how many of them have high blood pressure or diabetes or do they know someone who does. With African-Americans, the answer is always going to be yes. Also, how many times does the doctor change their medications until they find one that works? If they are skeptical about being part of the ALL OF US research, I say what your doctor is doing is research to find medicine that works. ALL OF US research will benefit generations to come.
What fueled his passion to improve the health of Black people? When he started his crusade 21 years ago it was unthinkable that anyone would criticize a delicious meal of fried pork chops, greens seasoned with bacon grease and chunks of ham hocks, cornbread drench in butter, candied yams smothered with brown sugar, and sweet tea topped off with a dessert of fried peach pie or chocolate fudge cake. That is soul food, an ethnic style of cooking that is traced to the enslavement of African-Americans and that, to this day, is a staple of diets in many black households.
The revelation for his focus came a few years after earning a degree in economics from Harvard University. He was assigned to a small church in Hernando, MS, where more than half of the members were obese. As he tells it, “People were dying from preventable diseases, and I was officiating at funerals every week.” He consequently did the unthinkable and banned fried chicken at church events. He also set up a walking track around the church. This mandate against poor food choices was reported in the New York Times and other media sources in the U.S.
“I preach about the dangers of unhealthy food choices that are linked to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and other potentially deadly diseases with congregations at Baptist churches around the country. I tell preachers who resist my message of healthy eating and exercise that sick members can’t tithe,” said Dr. Minor.