News New Day Northwest King5
December 20, 2019

Benaroya Research Institute Opens the Sound Life Project, A Research Study of Healthy Immune Systems

Enrollment is open for the Sound Life Project, in which researchers at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) will study healthy immune systems over time. Seattle-area adults are invited to participate in this groundbreaking study to build a baseline of knowledge about the human immune system to better understand disease.

The ultimate goal of the Sound Life Project is to lay the groundwork for better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent immune system diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The scientists will examine the immune systems of healthy volunteers with the goal of understanding what constitutes a “normal” baseline.

“We will be conducting in-depth studies of how immune cells work in healthy people, using newly-developed methods that allow us to gather more data from a blood sample than was ever possible before,” said Cate Speake, PhD, project lead for the Sound Life Project. “We’re especially interested in how lifestyle and environmental factors impact the immune system as we age, which is something that has been understudied in the past.”

BRI will recruit healthy adults in two specific age ranges, 25-35 and 55-65. Volunteers will provide blood samples and health information through in-person visits as well as a phone app developed at BRI, and researchers will then detail and track their immune systems over the course of two years.

All information is kept confidential, and the samples and health information used by scientists are coded by number, not by name.

The Sound Life Project is the initial phase of a research partnership led by the new Allen Institute for Immunology. BRI’s role is to provide detailed information about healthy immune systems to serve as a foundation for existing and future disease research programs.

Partnering with BRI and the Allen Institute for Immunology are Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of California San Diego, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and the University of Pennsylvania.

“This partnership is well aligned with what we do at BRI; we’re leveraging 20 years of experience in building biorepositories to now research the healthy immune system,” said Jane Buckner, MD, president of BRI and principal investigator for the Sound Life Project. “This collaboration will result in a better understanding of how the immune system ages, environmental influences and how diseases develop. We’re very pleased to have an essential role in this important initiative.”

Watch Dr. Cate Speake and Kassidy Benoscek being interviewed on KING 5’s New Day Northwest program, discussing BRI’s Sound Life Project.