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UCSF Receives $2 Million to Advance UC-Wide Biobanking Initiative

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Last Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012
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Goal of the project is to develop an ethical, efficient and sustainable system for obtaining, processing and sharing biospecimens and data.

UCSF's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has been awarded $2 million to advance a biobanking project involving the five University of California campuses.

The goal of the project, Engaging University of California Stakeholders for Biorepository Research (EngageUC), is to develop an ethical, efficient and sustainable system for obtaining, processing and sharing biospecimens and data.

It includes outpatient facilities at the UC medical center campuses - Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

This award by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is a supplement to the five-year, $112 million renewal award (grant number UL1 TR000004) that UCSF’s CTSI received as part of the Clinical and Translational Science Award program in 2011.

“This is a very important project,” said Clay Johnston, MD, PhD, associate vice chancellor of research and director of CTSI at UCSF.

Johnston continued, “Not only does it deal with a critical issue about appropriate consent for biospecimens, a problem we’re much better able to address together, but it also builds on relationships across the UCs that we’ve been bridging more and more successfully recently through efforts such as UC BRAID.”

Johnston is also co-principal investigator with Steven Dubinett, MD, associate vice chancellor for research and director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at UCLA.

The three-year project includes four main components:

• Facilitating coordination among UC institutional officials and Institutional Review Boards (IRBs);
• Developing harmonized procedures among UC biorepository researchers and leaders;
• Undertaking a randomized control trial to determine optimal methods for obtaining informed consent from patients; and
• Educating California's diverse communities to provide engaged input and feedback on UC's biorepository studies.

EngageUC is co-directed by Elizabeth Boyd, PhD, associate vice chancellor of Ethics and Compliance, program director of CTSI’s Regulatory Knowledge and Support Program and associate adjunct professor of Social and Behavioral Science at UCSF; Sarah Dry, MD, associate professor in the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine; and Daniel Dohan, PhD, associate professor of Health Policy and Social Medicine and associate director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF.

John Wilbanks, an expert on portable legal consent issues, is serving as a consultant on the project.

“This research will address one of the most pressing challenges facing bioethics - how best to inform participants about the research that may be conducted with their donated, discarded tissue,” Boyd said. “It will also allow us to develop best practices for the University of California.”

According to Dohan, EngageUC is particularly exciting because it is bringing together stakeholders - from researchers and leaders at UC to a diverse group of Californians from across the state - to determine how biobanking can be an effective tool for improving health.

EngageUC is also being informed by the Biobanking Initiative of UC BRAID, an existing consortium of the UC medical campuses focused on advancing clinical and translational research.

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