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Versiti Blood Research Institute to develop hematology biorepository

Milwaukee — January 24, 2024
Written By Sandeep Vanamala, MVSc, PCLP-IBM

The biobank will serve as a resource for advancing research and will bridge the gap between basic research and clinical applications.


Versiti Blood Research Institute (VBRI) is on the cutting edge of research discoveries that improve patient diagnosis and treatment. As part of its commitment to innovation, VBRI is developing a hematology biorepository that will serve as a campus-wide resource and powerful tool for advancing collaboration and interdisciplinary research at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center (MRMC) campus.

What is a biorepository?

A biorepository, or biobank, serves as a centralized facility that systematically collects, stores and manages biospecimens and associated data. With its potential to unlock a wealth of valuable information, a biorepository represents a crucial investment in the future of healthcare and holds the promise of transforming our understanding and treatment of disease.

Biorepositories provide researchers with access to diverse, well-characterized biological samples, including tissue, blood, serum plasma, bone marrow, stem cells, stool and urine, DNA, RNA, and more. These samples are collected using an institutional review board (IRB) approved informed consent process that protects the rights and welfare of human research subjects.

Why are biorepositories important?

Well-curated biobanks enable researchers to identify specific genetic variations associated with diseases, predict treatment responses, and design targeted interventions that are tailored to the specific needs of each patient. By harnessing the power of this personalized approach, healthcare providers can improve patient outcomes and minimize adverse events, ushering in a new era of more effective, efficient medical care.

Precision medicine: Biorepositories help bridge the gap between basic research and clinical applications. They facilitate the translation of scientific discoveries into real-world solutions. By providing access to well-annotated samples, VBRI’s biobank will enable the validation of biomarkers, diagnostic tests and therapeutic targets. This translational research approach expedites the development of novel treatments, diagnostics and preventive strategies, improving patient care while driving medical innovation.

Public health: Biobanks advance population and health studies by understanding the complex interactions between genetics, lifestyle and environment, all of which are key to understanding the causes and patterns of diseases among populations. VBRI’s biorepository will facilitate epidemiological studies, allowing researchers to investigate genetic predispositions, identify risk factors and assess the impact of various interventions on health outcomes. This knowledge will empower public health initiatives, inform policy decisions, and aid in the development of preventive strategies to promote population health.

Collaboration: Biorepositories promote collaboration and data sharing among researchers, healthcare institutions and industries. Sharing data and samples among researchers accelerates discoveries, prevents duplication and enhances the reproducibility of studies. This collaborative network will strengthen the MRMC scientific community’s capacity to collectively tackle complex health challenges.

The importance of privacy and security

Biorepositories are governed by strict ethical and legal frameworks that ensure the privacy, confidentiality and informed consent of donors. They aim to protect the rights and welfare of individuals who donate their samples per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A biospecimen information management and tracking system will provide an additional layer of robust data security measures, safeguarding sensitive participant sample information and ensuring compliance with strict data protection regulations. It allows for user access controls, encryption and audit trails to protect the confidentiality and privacy of stored data.

Global advances in biobanking

The global biobanking market has experienced significant growth in recent years, growing at an annual rate of 8.6%. It is expected to reach $136.9 billion by 2030. Some factors driving this growth include increasing demand for high-quality biospecimens and advancements in biobanking technologies, including genomic sequencing, omics profiling and the use of artificial intelligence to accelerate research outcomes. The growing prevalence of chronic and infectious diseases, including public health emergencies, also fuels large investments from private and public health agencies.

Versiti Blood Research Institute’s expertise

VBRI is world-renowned for its expertise in blood health research. Its investigators study a variety of malignant and non-malignant diseases, including hemophilia, leukemia, sickle cell disease, autoimmune disorders and more. The hematology biorepository will help propel this lifesaving research, bring attention to Versiti’s work, and foster better, more collaborative relationships with our partners at Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

About the expert: Sandeep Vanamala, MVSc, PCLP-IBM, is the director of the biobank at Versiti Blood Research Institute.

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Sandeep Vanamala, MVSc, PCLP-IBM
Sandeep Vanamala leads Versiti Blood Research Institute teams in biobanking, digital health and data, and business development.