Catherine Duncan writing for the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio), wrote that it is one of the leading health science universities in the nation. Recently, the prestigious southwest Texas institution received a $2.5 million gift from the J.M.R. Barker Foundation to support the establishment of a centralized biobank. The biobank will accelerate the pace of biomedical research and further support the university’s national leadership in critical therapeutic areas such as oncology, CNS (Alzheimer’s disease and other neurogenerative disease), Cardiovascular Disease (heart disease), Aging and others.
The investment will afford UT Health San Antonio the ability to strengthen its research platforms and advance capabilities to provide patients with improved diagnosis and treatment through enhanced awareness and understanding of the causes of challenging conditions impacting health in the region and nationwide. As reported by Ms. Duncan, the UT Health San Antonio biobank will be part of a comprehensive UT system effort involving six UT System institutions across Texas in support of a federal biobank infrastructure of resources and best practices to collect bio-specimens linked to the medical records of each donor.
This biobank will enable UT Health San Antonio to further focus on the collection, processing and analysis of specimens from patients impacted by diseases that disproportionately affect the South Texas population with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes and heart disease, reported UT Health President William L Henrich, MD, MACP.
Diversity in Clinical Research
Hispanics represent the largest minority group in the United States, rapidly approaching 20% of the nationwide population. South Texas is heavily Hispanic, and San Antonio is 63% Hispanic. Hispanics are significantly underrepresented in clinical research. The UT Health San Antonio biobank will center on its local population, hence opening the door for far greater diversity of clinical research. The biobank power of Hispanic clinical research hub introduces a myriad of exciting opportunities for the San Antonio region to take the lead in medical research, impacting Hispanic populations.
Some key areas include Neuroscience as plans call for the biobank to include a repository specifically for brain specimens. Dr. Sudha Seshadri, MD and director of the university’s Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases notes, “this brain bank will provide essential resources for our neuroscience researchers and faculty at the Biggs Institute as they seek to understand how the brain functions.” Seshadri noted, “it also will create additional avenues for collaborative research on a national level in Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, the brain bank will support our efforts in applying for highly competitive and significant national funding to become a comprehensive and nationally recognized center specializing in Alzheimer’s research.”
Other areas mentioned in the article including aging and cancer.