GMRI Tissue Bank hugely important for research

GMRI Tissue Bank Governance Committee member, Dr Stuart Johnson

GMRI Tissue Bank Governance Committee member, Dr Stuart Johnson

The GMRI Tissue Bank, established early last year, is hugely important for research purposes and will lead to more effective future treatments for patients, according to Governance Committee member, Dr Stuart Johnson.

Dr Johnson is also the Head of the Pathology Department at Hutt Hospital, which performs the initial processing of much of the Tissue Bank tissue samples.

“The Tissue Bank material ranges from samples of normal tissue to samples with known conditions such as vascular birthmarks and cancer. We get the material from our patients after the clinicians and the GMRI have obtained informed consent,” says Dr Johnson.

“I joined the Governance Committee to help oversee the Tissue Bank and to make sure the tissue that people have kindly donated to us is stored carefully and securely, is used appropriately and only for purposes deemed ethical by overseeing committees.”

The Tissue Bank, located at the GMRI’s Newtown premises, was set up in January 2013 under the leadership of Dr Swee Tan, said Management Committee member, Sophie de Jong.

“We co-ordinate the day-to-day running of the Tissue Bank, including the recruitment of patients, keeping up with ethics and hospital requirements, processing of the samples and the database management.”

The Tissue Bank Governance Committee includes Dr Tan, Dr Helen Brasch and Dr Paul Davis from the GMRI, as well as Dr Johnson from Hutt Valley DHB, and Dr Iwona Stolarek, Chief Medical Officer of Hutt Valley DHB and Wairarapa DHB.

“We have ethical approval to collect tissue and blood samples from a number of different surgical specialities. However, at present the majority comes from plastic surgery operations and includes birthmarks, keloid scars and various types of cancer,” Ms de Jong said.

“The main benefit of an on-site Tissue Bank is that you are able to collect tissues and add them to the bank in an ongoing manner so that when new research projects come up and are approved by the Health and Disability Ethics Committee, the required specimens are already available to start projects following final sign-off by the Tissue Bank Governance Committee.”

The Health and Disability Ethics Committee approval allows for collection of the tissue and blood samples of patients prospectively and permits storage of the surplus tissue samples collected for projects previously conducted by the GMRI. The Tissue Bank at the GMRI currently has over 1,000 tissue and blood samples.

“The Tissue Bank is a great resource for the GMRI as it makes research much more efficient, which benefits everyone,” says Ms de Jong.