When 20 national health care reporters recently visited Mayo Clinic for an immersion in precision medicine — also known as individualized medicine — one of the highlights of the four-day event put on by the National Press Foundation (NPF) was a tour of the Mayo Clinic Biobank. NPF President and COO Sandy Johnson and Digital Media Manager Reyna Levine blogged about their experience in the post “A Bank That Gives Back.” Here it is:
By Sandy Johnson and Reyna Levine
Mayo Clinic’s state-of-the-art biorepository stores 2.5 million samples of blood, tissue, urine and other DNA specimens. It’s a “one-stop shop” for clinical investigators, according to co-director Dr. Stephen Thibodeau.
Journalists toured the biobank as part of a National Press Foundation training program on precision medicine, which is health care tailored to each individual based on their personal genomics. This video explains what the biobank does:
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The national health care reporters, including Johnson and Levine, were also given an overview of the Biorepositories Program. Mayo Clinic and the Center for Individualized Medicine have made a significant commitment to building a world-class, scalable biorepository infrastructure. Now available to external investigators, the Biobank is an important part of the Biorepositories Program, and includes over 50,000 DNA samples from volunteer donors. It is, however, only one part of a larger program.
Biorepositories are collections of biospecimens, such as tissue, blood, plasma, serum, urine, DNA, RNA and live cells — and associated health information — from patients and research volunteers.
There are many different types and sizes of biorepositories today at Mayo Clinic. The majority of these focus on collecting material from patients with a variety of different diseases. Others, such as the Mayo Clinic Biobank, focus on collecting material from participants who are generally healthy.
Mayo Clinic's biorepositories are unique in that most specimens are linked to patients' medical records so that researchers can compare physical samples with patient outcomes over long periods of time.
Importantly, these biorepositories are an essential resource for personalized medicine research, as they enable researchers to study and understand both health and disease. Ongoing studies for each of the scientific programs within the Center for Individualized Medicine would not be possible without access to high-quality specimens.
Areas of Focus
Expanding the Mayo Clinic Biobank
Participant recruitment for the Mayo Clinic Biobank continues at the Mayo Clinic campuses in Rochester, Minn., and Jacksonville, Fla. Collections have also been initiated at Mayo Clinic Health System locations in La Crosse and Onalaska, Wis. Gathering participants from different geographical areas ensures the biobank includes a diverse range of individuals with varying risk factor backgrounds.
Additionally, Mayo collaborates with Mountain Park Health Center and Arizona State University to oversee the Sangre por Salud Biobank in Phoenix, Ariz. The goal of this collection is to increase research efforts in the Latino population to support studies in obesity, metabolism and diabetes — all areas of special concern in the Latino population.
A new state-of-the-art facility for the processing, storage and distribution of all types of biological samples is now under construction at Mayo Clinic. This will provide a highly standardized and automated one-stop location for all existing and future biorepository specimens.
Mayo Clinic Bioservices
Mayo Clinic and the Center for Individualized Medicine have made a significant commitment to building a world-class, scalable biorepository infrastructure. All of the services and resources from the Biorepositories Program are now available to external investigators through Mayo Clinic Bioservices.
The Biorepositories Program is co-directed by Drs. Stephen Thibodeau and James Cerhan. Dr. Thibodeau is the David F. and Margaret T. Grohne Director, Biorepositories Program, Center for Individualized Medicine.