The purpose of the PC at Ponce School of Medicine (PSM) is to facilitate the collection, processing, and storage of well-annotated human biospecimens for use in investigator-initiated translational cancer research. Throughout the past five years a solid infrastructure was put in place to develop the first tumor tissue bank in Puerto Rico, capable of the optimal collection, processing, and distribution of biological materials derived from the island's Hispanic population. Through this unique resource, which follows the same standard operational procedures (SOPs) established at the Tissue Core at MCC (and which are approved by our institutions'IRB committees), fresh tissues and high quality RNA are already available to support research at both institutions focusing on the molecular aspects and biological determinants of cancer health disparities involving Puerto Rican Hispanics living in Puerto Rico and Hispanics living in Florida. This facility is a valuable resource of high public health significance given that 1) Hispanics represent 15% of the US population (the fastest growing minority population), 2) most cancer health-disparity studies in the US have been conducted with Mexican-American populations, 3) there are differences in cancer trends and unique aspects associated to cancer health disparities among the different Hispanic populations, and 4) there is a scarcity of basic science-oriented cancer studies involving Puerto Ricans. Availability of biospecimens (normal/tumor tissue, serum/DNA) from this population will support much needed research on cancer health disparities and facilitate answering questions on gene-environment-culture interactions involving Hispanics. We propose to expand and further develop the existing Partnership TPC to: 1) extend the collection of biological materials to include paraffin blocks [to support studies on protein expression, microRNA, and the preparation of Tissue Microarrays (TMA)], and of blood [to support future genetic, epigenetic and proteomic analyses];and 2) to provide support in basic histological techniques, immunohistochemistry (IHC) methods, and advanced pathological analyses to investigators at PSM. TMAs of cancer types that predominantly affect the Hispanic population will be developed utilizing the MCC Tissue Core infrastructure. A DNA/serum repository of Puerto Rican patient samples will create a unique resource that will allow investigators to take advantage of high-throughput genomics- and proteomics-based technologies also available at MCC. These resources will support studies of factors (e.g., single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs], ancestry contribution) predisposing individuals to cancer development, the impact of SNPs on patient response to therapy (pharmacogenomics), and the discovery of diagnostic or prognostic molecular and proteomic signatures. With the rise of individualized/personalized medicine and biomarker discovery efforts, establishing a tissue/DNA/serum repository would be a valuable resource that can be used for furthering our understanding of the molecular factors that predispose or protect the Puerto Rican population to cancer. The genetic basis of known disparities in Puerto Rican Hispanics, which include different prevalence rates of certain types of cancer, can only be uncovered through access to these biospecimens. This partnership is uniquely positioned to fulfill this need. In fact, the U56-funded TPC already provides basic and clinical Partnership investigators with a centralized mechanism to collect, store, and process human tissues following standardized protocols. Because multi-parameter characterization of collected biospecimens will be required for the translation of experimental research findings to the clinic, a decision was made early on to utilize caBIG?'s biorepository management tool, caTissue Suite, to collect and store associated data, which will facilitate the correlation of important clinical-pathological data with research results, while preserving patient confidentiality. PSM is the only cancer research center in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, or Latin America to be connected to caBIG. Extending this practice to multiple tumor types, normal tissues, and fluid specimens would represent a leap to the next level of sophistication. Efforts are in place to ensure that tissue banking and information storage procedures are conducted using the highest standards in the field and are also attuned to other biobanking efforts across the country via participation in GMaP/BMaP (MCC and PSM are partners in Region 3). It is envisioned that the U54-funded, Hispanic-specific TPC will foster increased collaborations among the Partnership institutions and with other institutions, and will facilitate the application of novel molecular techniques to solving cancer health disparities involving Puerto Rican Hispanics (living on the island or in the mainland) and other Hispanics living in the US. In addition, this TPC constitutes a valuable asset for the recruitment of cancer researchers to the PSM-MCC Partnership.
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