Study targets health effects

LIHUE — Kaiser Permanente is calling on its members in the Hawaii region to take part in a national, long-term research effort designed to improve health care, treatment and prevention of disease for future generations.

The Kaiser Permanente Research Bank is recruiting members to provide genetic and environmental information to create one of the world’s largest and most diverse repositories of health data, an invaluable resource for researchers studying health, diseases and care delivery.

“Our 245,000 members in Hawaii, who represent a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, have the chance to make a difference — not just in their community, but for future generations — as researchers look to identify ways of improving care in rarely studied populations,” said Cyndee Yonehara, KP Research Bank operations lead for the Hawaii region. “We are proud and excited to be in the unique position of playing a major role in future research studies that will improve health care and potentially the lives of millions of people around the world.”

The KP Research Bank allows researchers to use DNA and other health information voluntarily provided by a diverse cross-section of Kaiser Permanente members to study how genetic and environmental factors affect health, and look for new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent certain diseases. Participants are grouped into cohorts that will enable researchers to examine findings among the general population, pregnant women and cancer patients.

Asians, Pacific Islanders and other ethnically diverse members historically under-represented in health studies are highly encouraged to enroll in the KP Research Bank.

The diverse data in Kaiser Permanente’s various regions, including Hawaii, presents a unique opportunity for researchers to study genetic factors and treatments of diseases like asthma, diabetes, cancer and hypertension in mixed-race populations.

Since 2005, more than 220,000 members across four regions have participated in Kaiser Permanente Research Bank biobanking efforts. The goal of the widespread launch is to recruit 500,000 ethnically and geographically diverse members across Kaiser Permanente’s seven regions.

To participate in the KP Research Bank, Kaiser Permanente members over 18 years of age must fill out a consent form granting access to their medical record, complete a brief health survey, and provide a blood sample. Participants’ names, medical record numbers and personal information will be de-identified and replaced with a study number to keep records private, secure and confidential. Participation will not affect health care coverage or become part of patients’ medical records.

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