A special research program at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center is providing a safe and vital research component to scientists in hopes of finding new treatments and cures for a variety of disorders.
The Human Specimen Procurement Service (HSPS) at St. Joseph’s matches researchers with patient-donated human specimens for study. The frozen specimens may hold the key to advancing the treatment of many diseases such as brain tumors and neurovascular disorders.
Scientists at St. Joseph’s, T-Gen and other research centers across the country can request HSPS specimens for use in approved research projects. The hospital collaborates with a set of surgeons to identify the patients who will be undergoing surgery in which tissue will be removed. With patient consent, the HSPS staff collects any unused tissue from pathology following surgery. The tissue is stored and frozen before it is matched with researchers.
“The goal of the program is to provide quality samples for researchers while maintaining compliance and patient confidentiality,” says Sheri English, RN, program coordinator.
Since its establishment last year, HSPS has created an efficient and centralized process with regulatory oversight to ensure human safety. More than 2,220 specimens have been gathered from approximately 950 patients. Eighty percent of St. Joseph’s tissue bank is neuro-based but specimens including lung, heart and ovarian tissue are also collected.
Although the service is not new to many research facilities, St. Joseph’s stands out from other centers across the country because Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s performs a high percentage of neurosurgeries and treats patients with rare disorders. This allows the hospital’s tissue bank to collect rare specimens for research purposes.