The US National Institutes of Health has awarded the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, $142 million over five years to serve as a national biobank for President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) (Nat. Biotechnol. 33, 325, 2015). The funding, announced in May, will enable the nonprofit clinic to be a repository for this longitudinal program, which aims to enroll 1 million or more US participants to accelerate individualized medicine by improving the understanding of individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person and how these contribute to health and disease. As the PMI Cohort Program biobank, the Mayo Clinic will provide the infrastructure to collect, store, analyze and distribute to other researchers more than 35 million biological samples. The biobank should be used as a resource for researchers. “It's not meant to be an archive,” said NIH deputy director Kathy Hudson at a Big Data in Biomedicine conference on 25–26 May at Stanford University. Although most biospecimens will be stored at the Rochester, Minnesota, campus, about 20–25% of the collection will be kept at the clinic's Florida site to protect against loss if a localized natural disaster occurs. Volunteers will provide personal health information, submit to physical examination and agree to share their electronic health records. The sample analyses will include chemical and genetic tests. The Mayo Clinic is investing in the PMI Cohort Program biobank with a 30,000-square-foot facility expansion that includes robotic systems to separate, label and freeze biospecimens, including automated DNA extraction. It will also share the resources of Mayo Medical Laboratories, a nationwide network covering all 50 states with more than 300 couriers and logistics providers, to ensure the shortest transit time for specimens. The UK has built its own repository, called UK Biobank, with half a million volunteers.
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Mayo Clinic to share 1 million. Nat Biotechnol 34, 680 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt0716-680