We all know you can give blood to help ill or injured people who need it, but did you know you can also donate blood for research? Benaroya Research Institute collects blood samples and medical histories for researchers to use in their quest to prevent, treat and eliminate autoimmune and immune diseases.
The samples and information are stored in the BRI Immune Mediated Diseases Biorepository. It’s one of BRI’s most important assets, with more than 9,000 participants donating over 250,000 samples of blood and tissue, as well as medical histories collected since 2000 to support BRI scientists in their fight against diseases.
Researchers use the samples to compare similarities and differences at the cellular and genetic level and identify biomarkers with distinct cell characteristics that are associated with the progression of disease. Using these biomarkers, BRI scientists are able to advance their understanding of how and why autoimmune and immune-mediated diseases develop, identify how genetic risk factors influence the immune system to cause disease and develop targets for new therapies. Scientists use samples from people with diseases and without diseases (Healthy Control Biorepository) for comparison.
HONORING A GRANDMOTHER
Meeko Garcia joined the biorepository in honor of his grandmother. “Joining the Healthy Control Biorepository carries a greater meaning beyond giving blood,” he explains. “This was an important and sentimental step that I took in honor of my grandmother who had diabetes. Every single donation provided to BRI benefits the overall mission in finding cures for autoimmune diseases.”
He found it easy to give. “Participation was easy and convenient,” he notes. “I contacted BRI and expressed interest in donating,” he adds. “The staff was accommodating with my schedule and expertly guided me through the whole process. My appointment took about 45 minutes.” All of the information gathered is kept confidential.
Meeko is strategic account manager for National Purchasing Partners (NPP), a group purchasing organization owned by Virginia Mason Health System. The company leverages the combined purchasing power of its membership to provide discounted products to its members including government, construction, hospitality and others.
“Because of our relationship with Virginia Mason, revenues from NPP actually end up supporting crucial research at BRI,” Meeko says. “Many of my co-workers have taken part in the donation process and are also excited to be part of the great cause. Autoimmune diseases touch many lives, and every supporter puts us that much closer to finding a cure."
Originally published in BRING IT ON newsletter - Summer 2016
August 8, 2016
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