The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Mayo Clinic $142 million over five years as part of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative to create the world’s largest biobank for the PMI Cohort Program. Mayo Clinic will use the funding to support the collection, storage and distribution for research use of biological samples known as biospecimens.
Laboratory analyses of the biospecimens, including chemical and genetic tests, will be a key component of the core PMI Cohort Program data set. These data, combined with other information provided by volunteers such as lifestyle and health questionnaires, medication history, EHRs, physical exams, and environmental exposures and real time physiology tracked through mobile health technologies, will help researchers study individual differences in health and disease.
“This range of information at the scale of 1 million people will be an unprecedented resource for researchers working to understand all the factors that influence health and disease,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “The more we understand about individual differences, the better able we will be to tailor the prevention and treatment of illness.”
The biobank will provide the infrastructure to store, analyze and make available to researchers more than 35 million biospecimens and associated data using state-of-the-art laboratory automation and robotics for efficient processing and retrieval. Biobank staff will follow a detailed set of policies to safeguard the collection against contamination or loss and to protect participant confidentiality. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic Florida Biospecimen Accessioning and Processing Core laboratory site will provide sample storage for 20-25 percent (8-10 million samples) of the collection, in order to protect the national resource from a localized natural disaster.
Mayo Clinic also will harness the resources of Mayo Medical Laboratories (MML) to accomplish the goals of the PMI Cohort Program biobank. The MML nationwide network covers all 50 states with more than 300 couriers and longstanding relationships with major logistic providers that ensure the shortest transit time possible for specimens. Today, MML receives 35,000-40,000 specimens per day and performs 23 million tests per year.
Once established, the PMI Biobank will be a major force in advancing precision medicine and contributing to research and improved health care.
Stephen N. Thibodeau, Ph.D., co-director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine Biorepositories Program, and Mine Cicek, Ph.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Biospecimen Accessioning and Processing Core Laboratory, will oversee the biobank. Dr. Thibodeau also will serve on the PMI Cohort Program Steering Committee to help guide the program’s plans and activities.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Mayo Clinic to participate with NIH and share our expertise in such an important national research initiative,” says Dr. Thibodeau in an official statement. “We are delighted that our state-of-the-art facilities will serve as an active, vital research resource for the 1 million participant biospecimen collection. The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine is committed to embracing the potential of precision medicine to improve healthcare.”