The National Institutes of Health plans to award a five-year, $142 million contract to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to establish the world’s largest research-cohort biobank, in support of a national research study of 1 million or more Americans as part of the Precision Medicine Initiative.

The Mayo Clinic’s biobank will have the responsibility of putting in place state-of-the-art methods and technologies for sample collection, processing, handling, management, storage and providing all support services needed for biospecimen collection for the participants in the PMI cohort program. Mayo will provide the infrastructure to store, analyze and make available to researchers more than 35 million biospecimens and associated data using laboratory automation and robotics for efficient processing and retrieval.

According to NIH, laboratory analyses of the biospecimens—including chemical and genetic tests—will be a key component of the PMI cohort’s core data set, which will also include electronic health records as well as environmental exposures and real time physiology tracked through mobile healthcare technologies.

Stephen Thibodeau, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine Biorepositories Program, and Mine Cicek, director of the Mayo Clinic Biospecimen Accessioning and Processing Core Laboratory, will oversee the biobank.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Mayo Clinic to participate with NIH and share our expertise in such an important national research initiative,” said Thibodeau, who will also serve on the PMI Cohort Program Steering Committee. “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.”

In addition to the biobank, NIH plans to announce other funding awards later this summer for the PMI Cohort Program, including a coordinating center, participant technologies center and healthcare provider organization enrollment centers.

The coordinating center will provide a set of analysis tools and perform data integration across a wide variety of data types, including participant self-report, sensor and app-generated data, as well as clinical data from EHR systems submitted by providers and by individuals enrolled as direct volunteers.

A participant technologies center will develop, test, maintain and upgrade PMI Cohort Program mobile apps and associated server systems that will provide enrollment, consent, data collection, and communication and feedback functions in a secure environment.

The enrollment centers will enroll participants into the PMI Cohort Program from healthcare provider organizations, which will be responsible for collaborating on engagement and enrollment, communication, biospecimen and health data collection, as well as participant retention for the participants enrolled.

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