Mayo Clinic is one of more than 100 organizations across the U.S. that is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to partner in the All of Us Research Program. The nationwide program aims to enroll at least 1 million participants to better understand how genetic differences contribute to disease. In 2016, Mayo Clinic was awarded $142 million in funding over five years by the NIH to serve as the nation’s biobank.
According to a recent Twin Cities Business article, Mayo has always counted its “biobank” as of one its top assets: A vast collection of blood samples and other health information donated by its patients over the span of many decades. During the past two years, Mayo has been busy doubling the size of its 35,000-square-foot-biobank facility in Rochester for processing, storage, and distribution to prepare for the effort.
On May 6, the NIH opened national enrollment for the All of Us research program. Each of the 1 million All of Us volunteers will contribute 35 samples, making for a total of 35 million biospecimens to be housed at Mayo's biobank. One of the things that make Mayo’s biobank unique is that unlike most others, it is not focused on any particular disease. Rather, it collects samples and health information from patients and other volunteers regardless of health history—this is what has made it uniquely useful in carrying out research for precision medicine.
Reflecting its importance for personalized medicine, the biobank—officially known as the Mayo Clinic Biorepositories Program—is organized as part of Mayo's Center for Individualized Medicine, which in recent years has become one of the Rochester institution’s most dynamic growth areas.