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San Diego Blood Bank Partners With Illumina For Genomics Research

A mobile blood bank parked in front of Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.
Rady Children's Hospital / Facebook
A mobile blood bank parked in front of Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.

The San Diego Blood Bank announced Tuesday that it's working with Illumina Corp. and other organizations on a plan to allow donors to give blood that will be used in genomics research.

The blood bank will take an extra tube of blood from up to 100 pre-selected donors at Chargers Drive XXXVII on Nov. 24. That blood will be sequenced, with results presented to the participants at an event in March hosted by Illumina, the San Diego maker of genetics equipment.

The study is part of the Precision Medicine Initiative announced earlier this year by President Barack Obama.


Dawn Barry, vice president of applied genomics at Illumina, said a goal is to harness the nation's blood banks as sources for recruiting volunteers and obtaining samples for large-scale genomics research.

While scientists can extract DNA from the samples, and conduct research on diseases like cancer and diabetes, participants can receive personal genetic profiles for use in their own healthcare.

"This collaboration demonstrates an innovative example of academia, industry, and not-for-profits coming together in the spirit of the PMI and to help drive its sustainability and success," said David Wellis, blood bank CEO. "It is a practical strategy that reaches beyond traditional infrastructures and mitigates significant research challenges such as public trust, recruitment, and diversity during a ten-year plus study."

Dr. Robert Green, a medical geneticist consulting to the project, said the San Diego Blood Bank has an established "informed consent and return of results process" that will allow it to collect samples for testing, and stay engaged with participants in studies.

Collaborators in the plan include Rady Children's Hospital, UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute, medical schools at Baylor and Harvard universities and other organizations.