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Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, throws a wadded dollar bill on the floor making a point as he delivers the graduation address. A new program called RISE (rehabilitating individuals through strategic encounters)is having its first graduation of three former federal prisoners Wednesday Feb. 7, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La. They have gone through a year of reentry programming led by US District Judge Shelly Dick.

I recently joined the All of Us Research Program as a participant to help shape healthier outcomes for the people of Louisiana. All of Us was created to further precision medicine, which does two things: it uses genetic and health data to optimize benefits for all people and allows communities of color to gain equity that has long been lacking in medical care.

The crucial piece of the All of Us Research Program is the diversity of the people taking part, so the data represents everyone. We need our community’s specific health strengths and weaknesses captured in medical research.

Our investment in precision medicine is necessary for our future. Everyone, no matter their heritage, background or socioeconomic standing, deserves medical treatment that works. The National Institutes of Health All of Us Research Program seeks to address this with your help.

I believe the most important and crucial piece of the All of Us Research Program is the diversity of the participants involved, so the data is representative of everyone. They need "All of Us" to make advances toward precision medicine, which is, quite bluntly, what this state and country need. Equal representation in all aspects of life, in all forms, including health care. This is why programs like All of Us are vital in our fight for equity and inclusivity.

People throughout the country are being asked to share information about their health and lives. This will make up a research database. This research will help doctors to access information to help identify and treat diseases and illnesses more quickly and precisely based on a patient’s background, lifestyle, environment, and genetic makeup. We have always been a diverse community where people help people, and I believe that is why our city was chosen as the first city in the state of Louisiana to promote this program.

This program is the future of medicine for this country, and I firmly believe they are making headway for what needs to happen for true medical progress. There is an urgent and pressing need to increase representation in communities of color in medical research as we are often the people that are underrepresented.

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I’ve served this community for decades, as a state representative, as the governor’s policy adviser on housing and community development, on the YMCA Capital Area Board of Directors and mentoring students in Baton Rouge schools. I know that we must work to make our home better today, and, just as equally, we must invest in our future generations to be successful. All of Us gives us that opportunity to work today for a better tomorrow. The health and well-being of our community is at a critical point. Please consider taking part in this necessary health care initiative for our future. I believe in our people, and I believe we can make the future brighter and healthier. Join me in All of Us at joinallofus.org.

Ted James

state representative

Baton Rouge