Extraordinary advances in organ and tissue transplantation have saved thousands of lives over the past few decades, yet researchers continue their quest to learn more about the causes of organ failure and to overcome toxicity in the drugs used to maintain transplants. A new facility at Emory University, supported by the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), will help researchers better link their discoveries in the laboratory to patient care in organ transplantation. The facility is named the Georgia Research Alliance-Emory Transplant Center Biorepository for Translational Science.
"The Emory Transplant Center is focused on research that links laboratory discoveries to improved patient care, with a particular focus on developing new approaches to overcome the debilitating problems created by the toxicities of the drugs we use to prevent rejection," says center director Christian P. Larsen, MD, DPhil. "Translational science requires unique facilities like this biorepository to support the collection and analysis of biological specimens for clinical trials and to provide a seamless interface between the laboratory and the bedside."
The new biorepository will allow for the processing, storage, distribution and clinical correlation of samples such as blood, tissues and fluids critical for the evaluation of new clinical therapies. The facility will become a robust library of all conditions that lead to organ failure and will greatly facilitate research studies and proteomic and genomic surveys. Patient confidentiality and patient consent will be a high priority. Equipment in the biorepository will include a variety of freezers and refrigerators as well as tracking software and hardware and backup power systems.
The transplant biorepository is just one component of the GRA's recent investment in transplantation research at Emory. Last year the GRA helped Emory recruit Allan D. Kirk, MD, PhD, from the National Institutes of Health to become the Emory Transplant Center's first scientific director and a GRA Eminent Scholar.
"The Emory Transplant Center is an example of the tremendous accomplishments that can be realized through a truly collaborative approach to research and patient care," says GRA president Michael Cassidy. "The GRA is pleased to continue our partnership with Emory and its transplant team as they develop more effective strategies for transplant patients in Georgia and throughout the world."
The Emory Transplant Center, which includes 37 faculty in Emory University School of Medicine, continues to mark major accomplishments in the integration of clinical and academic medicine. The center attracted more than $12.5 million in research funding in 2007, and another recent NIH grant will fund research to improve pediatric transplants. Emory's adult clinical transplant programs are thriving, and at the same time, Emory transplant physicians and surgeons continue to perform pediatric transplants at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, which ranks in the top five pediatric transplant centers in the US.