For nearly 45 years, Marcia Wollam has cared for people at Virginia Mason Hospital. Initially she served as an LPN and then she became a patient flow coordinator on the Rehabilitation Unit. But she always wanted to do more to help people. She participated in research in the 1970s at Virginia Mason by donating her bone marrow. And as soon as she learned about the Benaroya Research Institute biorepositories, she joined in 2006.
“I wanted to be a part of a larger pool of participants that would eventually lead to something good for many people,” she says. A biorepository, or biobank, consists of blood and tissue samples linked to medical and demographic information collected from people with a specific disease or condition or from healthy volunteers. All of the information gathered is kept confidential, and samples and health information used by scientists are coded with a number. BRI maintains an extensive biorepository with more than 100,000 samples dating back to 2000. The biorepository includes 11 disease categories and one for healthy people. BRI scientists and colleagues collaborate to study this information. They work to understand the nature of disease initiation and progression to better target therapy and look for new therapies.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
“I’m hoping that whatever role my samples play, that they further the cause to eliminate disease and reduce delays in getting answers,” explains Marcia. “The more of us that join, the more answers we will get, and the more treatments will become available. Waiting for research to find results for a person’s condition is one of the most frustrating things I can imagine. My husband, Bud, who passed away in 2010, had what’s called an “orphan” disease—not enough people have it to make research worthwhile for companies that try to produce drugs. That was hard for Bud to deal with, and for me too. Hopefully, with this work we can expect progress more quickly.”
Participating is easy, Marcia notes. “There are a few simple consent forms to sign, and the BRI staff members who collect the blood always make themselves available at a time that is convenient for me,” she says. “They are great. They call or send me an e-mail when they need a sample; it takes less than an hour and is relatively painless.
“People who participate are hereby joining the BRI–Virginia Mason collective effort to obtain answers, not just for our patients, but for our own staff and their families too. Not to mention the rest of the world!”
Originially posted by BRING IT ON Newsletter - Summer 2015
June 8, 2015
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