In existence for more than 50 years, the Birth Defects Research Laboratory (BDRL) is now the only NIH- funded fetal tissue repository available to scientific recipients in the US. It is therefore a crucial scientific resource to retain for facilitating biomedical research, especially since alternative commercial laboratories are embroiled in controversy related to accusations of trade in fetal tissues. The scientific importance of fetal tissues to scientific research progress and health care is highlighted in a recent high profile Nature news-feature article (PMID 26659164). In fiscal year 2014, NIH funded 164 projects that utilized fetal tissues for a total expenditure of $76 million, with our laboratory as the only NIH fetal tissue repository, being the primary resource for many of these projects. The track record and success of the BDRL has therefore been proven many times over in its consistent provision of a host of scientific recipient-related services with fetal tissues, fully compliant with strict ethical and research guidelines, without misdemeanor. Spectacular technological advances in epigenetics, genomics, cellular and tissue imaging, and developmental biology have greatly expanded research opportunities for utilizing these precious tissues to facilitate current and future biomedical research progress. These advances establish the rationale for the laboratory to innovate and undertake multiple collaborations to both evaluate and demonstrate the utility of novel experimental approaches to maximize the scientific utility of these tissues. This application seeks to develop the resource beyond the core fundamental goal of the resource aka the systematic collection, staging, identification and processing of fetal specimens for distribution of tissues and derivatives to scientific recipients. We, therefore, propose to develop the research resource utility further by engaging with key collaborators to synergistically develop new services and thereby concurrently promote scientific awareness of these approaches to increase recipient recruitment and enhance research progress into the bases of human development and disease.
Conceptual tissues that would otherwise be discarded are donated to this program for scientific research purposes, in full compliance with research and regulatory guidelines. The laboratory operates as a resource repository for researchers by systematically collecting, processing, and distributing these tissues and their derivatives to recipient biomedical scientists located at universities and non-profit institutions, nationwide. This resource is essential to facilitating research progress in a whole host of research fields including genetics, the human variome and epigenetics, birth defects and genetic disease both common and rare, cancer biology, developmental biology, infective disease, inflammatory and immunological disease, regenerative medicine, and the developmental origins of adult disease.
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