Tampa General Hospital (TGH) and USF Health is announcing the opening of the TGH | USF Health Precision Medicine Biorepository. The Health Precision Medicine Biorepository is a secure facility that collects, catalogs and stores samples of biological material for medical research.
“The biorepository will drive leading-edge scientific collaboration with the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine that offers new advanced technology and innovative care to our patients. The addition of the biorepository further elevates our cancer institute program as a key anchor in the Tampa Medical and Research District that will continue to attract renowned physicians and tech partners,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital. Spanning the Tampa metro area, the medical and research district empowers future-thinking institutions to originate, grow and improve the overall health and health equity of the Tampa Bay region and the entire state.
A biorepository is like a high-tech library where researchers, physicians and scientists can access donated samples and correlating data for scientific study. Patients give permission for broad investigational use of their donated specimens and, to protect patient confidentiality, all genomic data is securely stored and only shared with other secure systems.
“USF Health and Tampa General continue to expand our alliance to provide cutting-edge health care and innovative research for the Tampa Bay region and beyond,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood, executive vice president for USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “Our work through the biorepository allows for enhanced collaboration among researchers and clinical teams, to facilitate clinical and translational research projects.” The goal of translational research is to move basic science discoveries more quickly and effectively into practice.
“The biorepository bridges lab-based surgical research investigators at USF and elsewhere to active clinical programs at the TGH Cancer Institute to learn how genetics, lifestyle and the environment affect health to improve our treatments and prevent diseases,” said Dr. Matthew Anderson, professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and associate director for shared resources, TGH Cancer Institute.
Biorepositories advance scientific research in many ways including through the sharing of data for cancer tumor sequencing – learning the exact order of chemical building blocks that make up a tumor’s DNA and result in the formation of tumors.
“The TGH-USF Health Precision Medicine Biorepository is a key facet of the infrastructure that powers major academic medical centers like Tampa General and USF Health,” said Dr. Eduardo M. Sotomayor, director of the TGH Cancer Institute. “It enables scanning, tracking and management of individual specimens as they move in and out of the biorepository facility, creating a robust inventory management system for the entire TGH Cancer Institute team and USF cancer surgical researchers.”
In addition to sequencing, the TGH-USF Health Precision Medicine Biorepository allows for investigational work in the field of precision medicine or pharmacogenomics. Precision medicine uses information specific to a patient’s genes or proteins to prevent, diagnose or treat disease. Pharmacogenomics is the study of how gene mutations and patient DNA can affect the way a patient responds to medications, including cancer therapies.
“DNA sequencing and pharmacogenomics (how genes affect a patient’s response to drugs) are two expanding fields of cancer research,” said Dr. Abraham Schwarzberg, senior vice president and chief of TGH Cancer Institute. “Sequencing provides us the keys to unlock cancer tumor genomics or DNA. Pharmacogenomics helps us tailor more effective, safer cancer treatments for our patients.”
Specimens are stored in an ultra-cold cryogenic repository that was specifically developed for the biorepository. It is accessed by researchers conducting a variety of scientific projects across multiple medical specialties, notably those at TGH Cancer Institute and USF Health who are working to advance cancer treatments and care.
The biorepository is located at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute, 560 Channelside Drive in downtown Tampa. The building also features a TGH urgent care center and USF Health, as well as an executive wellness program in collaboration with USF Health.
The biorepository was made possible in part by a grant from the TGH Foundation’s Bruemmer Women’s Leadership Circle (BLC). The philanthropy group supports various hospital programs and initiatives throughout the year and is enthusiastic about supporting health care and the community.