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Director’s Message: Spring 2014

Dr. Firestein

The CTRI is delighted to announce our collaboration with an exceptional community organization, the San Diego Blood Bank. Through this connection, our shared goal is to enhance CTRI’s capacity to provide research resources for CTRI scientists and by enabling the Blood Bank to leverage its infrastructure to further support healthcare. Our initial plans focus on two areas: expanding our volunteer base for CTRI-supported clinical trials; and growing our biorepository collection of blood sample collections from healthy individuals. I’m excited by this win-win collaboration, which has the potential to expand into additional areas that would benefit research, as well as the community, and ultimately lead to healthier lives.

For the first area, the Community Engagement Unit at CTRI has added iPads at the main San Diego Blood Bank location so that blood donors can register with ResearchMatch, a volunteer online registry funded by the National Institutes of Health that brings together researchers and volunteers who would like to be involved in research studies. The Blood Bank’s donor base has been described as “incredibly loyal” and as being made up of individuals “interested in helping.” In addition, deferred donors – those who have been exposed to diseases such as malaria and can’t donate blood for a period of time – can help by volunteering to participate in clinical trials.

In the second area, the Translational Research Technology Unit at CTRI is working with the San Diego Blood Bank to collect and store fresh and discarded blood samples for use in research. The samples will be housed in a newly created joint biorepository, which should be operational within this year. Building a biorespository of healthy, normal blood samples for researchers to use in their work is an exciting prospect. The Blood Bank has a high volume of samples coming through the door every year and boasts 65,000 unique blood donors annually. Each month, approximately 10,000 samples are collected through its six San Diego County sites and 13 Blood Mobiles, including one that makes frequent stops at UC San Diego. One of the advantages of the Blood Bank is that it can provide control samples. As San Diego Blood Bank CEO David Wellis, PhD, said, “There’s no better place to get blood samples than from a blood bank.”

I am also pleased to announce that Dr. Wellis has joined the CTRI Executive Committee. Dr. Wellis has an outstanding background that bridges scientific research, biobanking, and community, and he is a welcome addition to our committee. Dr. Wellis and I share a tremendous enthusiasm about the CTRI-San Diego Blood Bank collaboration and its future direction. “The San Diego Blood Bank saves lives every day,” Dr. Wellis said. And at UC San Diego’s CTRI, our goal is to improve and save more lives by speeding the delivery of new therapies and cures to patients.

Please join me in a warm welcome to Dr. Wellis and in celebrating the launch of our collaboration with the San Diego Blood Bank.

Gary S Firestein, MD, Director of CTRI
Professor of Medicine Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine
Phone: (858) 822-3824