Essentia Health is helping a nationwide COVID-19 study by enrolling regional patients in the effort.

The Duluth-based health care system is seeking participants for the All of Us research program, which is funded and managed by the National Institutes of Health. Nationwide, 350,000 people have joined the program, a news release said.

Patient information may be used to help researchers understand how and why COVID-19 impacts people in different ways through de-identified health care records. Participants may also be surveyed and tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

The program wasn't designed to study COVID-19, however. It was created to help researchers study and understand a number of diseases. When the coronavirus pandemic began, the program was well-positioned to gather information for use in the study of COVID-19, the release said.

The program's goal is to become one of the largest and most inclusive research programs nationwide, as representation and inclusivity in health research is a challenge.

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"All of Us data and samples represent robust participation from diverse communities, offering new visibility in research for communities that have been historically underrepresented in biomedical research," the release said.

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People over age 18 who can offer their own consent, reside in the U.S and who are not incarcerated can enroll in the study. The program is open for patients and non-patients of Essentia, and there are no limits on participating due to a person's health.

The release said Essentia was selected as an enrollment partner as its service area reaches rural communities in northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and eastern North Dakota.

Find more information and enrollment steps at essentiahealth.org/allofus or call a program representative at 877-340-8058. A member of the local research team will reach out once it's safe to begin in-person enrollment visits.