At St. James’s Hospital, patients with a known diagnosis or possible diagnosis of cancer give consent to a cancer specialist nurse or surgeon to take tissue samples for research (see Consent form, Patients section). As soon as the surgeon completes the operation, the operation specimen – breast lump/mastectomy or colon – is taken rapidly to the histopathology department. The pathologist examines it and samples some surplus tissue – cancer and normal – for the biobank scientist to prepare for the biobank. Coded data on the sample and pathology – when completed – are entered in the database.
In 2008-2018, 6400 frozen samples – breast cancer (2010) and colorectal cancer (290) – have been collected and stored in the St. James’s Hospital Cancer Biobank from patients who have given consent for research. Since 2018, samples have been taken primarily for FFPE, but frozen samples are taken prospectively for bespoke projects. To date, 3500 frozen samples have been collected, and will be available for multiple projects. This has been achieved by the willing cooperation of many members of the hospital staff, including senior management.
Staff in the SJH Cancer Biobank (2020): Dr Richard Flavin (Director), Blanaid Mee PhD (Biobank Manager), Una Gibbons PhD and Aoife Tanaka (Biobank Scientists), Lino Manalato (Biobank INTRA student) and Laura Tier (Executive Officer)
Grants of €20,000 have also been given to both Cork University Hospital and NUI Galway for biobanking projects.
Funds donated to Biobank Ireland paid the biobank scientist’s salary for 4 years, and this is now a hospital post. Cork and Galway University Hospitals participated in designing the Consent Form, Patient Information Leaflet and Sample Access Policy, all of which were also approved by the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office and National Cancer Registry. Funding for the Cork and Galway University Hospital biobanks is urgently needed.