Striking Biological Gold

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, the Harvard Medical School-led Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness, or MassCPR, has been connecting scientists at different institutions with biospecimens for SARS-CoV-2 research. Now, MassCPR is formalizing its biospecimens program to make the process even more efficient. The new program will feature a database that contains key demographic, clinical, and biological information for biospecimens housed at six Massachusetts-based hospitals.

Typically, researchers only have access to biospecimens collected at their own institutions—and because the samples are so valuable, it can be difficult to convince different institutions to work together and pool their resources. Moreover, the logistics of moving samples from one place to another can be cumbersome and slow.

To overcome these challenges, MassCPR created a biospecimen sample sharing system based on the principle that institutions would keep some portion of the samples they collected, while making the others available to other researchers. 

The program will use a decentralized model, in which six Massachusetts-based hospitals—Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Mass General, Beth Israel Deaconess, Boston Medical Center, UMass Memorial Medical Center, and Tufts Medical Center—each collect and store biospecimens that are part of the MassCPR biobank.

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