The Partners Healthcare Biobank recently hit a major milestone by enrolling its 100,000th participant. The Biobank was created to build a resource of biological samples (DNA, serum, and plasma) that are linked to a patient’s electronic medical record.
Over the past several years, this amazing resource has been available to all Partners investigators studying a wide range of challenging diseases in virtually all areas of medicine.
What is a Biobank and how does it benefit researchers?
A biobank is a collection of biological samples provided by participants that are used for medical research. When participants donate blood samples and share information about their health history, they open windows into their unique genetic makeup and help researchers gain a deeper understanding of the genetic underpinnings of health and disease.
Scientists can sift through all of that genetic information to find patterns that help them learn more about how to identify and treat diseases. To date, data from the Partners Biobank has allowed researchers to conduct over 225 research studies on common diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
How the Biobank can benefit participants
While the Partners Biobank is a great resource for researchers, it can also be beneficial for participants. When researchers study genetic data, there’s a chance they could find a health concern a participant may not be aware of, and these results can be returned to the patients.
Understanding how genetic variations are linked to disease is crucial, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. The information collected by the Biobank can also provide insights into how a person may respond to certain drugs or treatment strategies.
“We are already seeing tremendous results from the Biobank, both for individual patients where a health concern was identified to large studies that are helping us to identify diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer in patients who have yet to develop any symptoms.”Scott T. Weiss, MD
Reaching 100,000 participants is an incredible milestone for the Biobank, and if researchers have learned this much with 100,000, there’s no telling what more we can learn from 200,000.
“The Biobank has truly revolutionized the way that we do research at Partners and the more participants we have, the more powerful the resource is.”Elizabeth Karlson, MD
To learn more about the Biobank and how you can participate, visit the website.
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