NWBioTrust: Enhancing access to biospecimens for research

New resource collaboration will increase availability of human blood and tissues samples to benefit research and the community
NWBioTrust group photo
NWBioTrust team from Fred Hutch, UW Medicine, ITHS Biomedical Informatics, Seattle Children's and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Photo by Bo Jungmayer

The University of Washington departments of Anatomic Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, the Institute of Translational Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s have come together to launch NWBioTrust, a resource that is increasing the availability of high-quality, human blood and tissue samples and clinical data for innovative biomarker discovery.

With initial funding from the Washington State Life Sciences Development Fund, the effort is led by:

  • Dr. Peggy Porter, a member of the Human Biology Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center;
  • Dr. John Slattery, vice dean of Research and Graduate Education at UW School of Medicine; and
  • Dr. Gail Deutsch, associate professor of pediatric pathology at Seattle Children’s.

Dr. Steve Schmechel, who joined the UW Department of Pathology in 2012, brought considerable experience in biospecimen resources from the University of Minnesota and now co-directs NWBioTrust and oversees the collection of surgical tissue specimens at UW.

A robust and efficient biospecimen resource

Together the team has built a robust and efficient biospecimen resource to connect annotated human blood and tissue samples from consenting individuals to potentially high-impact research studies. Such samples and the associated clinical data are crucial to the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic technologies that can improve disease detection and treatment and benefit the health of the state’s citizens.

Through the NWBioTrust portal, researchers can access a central Web-based system to search existing banked cancer specimens or request the collection of samples from surgeries at UW and clinics at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance that match the detailed requirements of their research protocols. The online system allows investigators to register their studies, submit sample requests and track the delivery process.

Filling a critical gap

While the NWBioTrust will fill a critical gap in the development of new treatments and diagnostic and prognostic tests, it also provides a novel opportunity for patients to take an active role in the discovery of a cure for their disease. Patients can participate in the program by providing their consent to donate tissue and/or blood samples, many of which are left over from clinical procedures and would otherwise go to waste. As part of this process, NWBioTrust is dedicated to ensuring that all patient privacy and consent regulations are strictly followed.

“We are excited to announce a progressive and interconnected system that enhances research sample access while protecting and involving the patient and the public,” Porter said. “NWBioTrust is poised to integrate with the new collaborative Solid Tumor Translational Research (STTR) effort led by Dr. Eric Holland, director of the Human Biology Division at Fred Hutch.”



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