The 30-year-old Clinical Research Laboratory and Biobank (CRLB) at McMaster University joins forces with the Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory (GMEL), a joint PHRI/TaARI lab, to better understand ‘nurture or nature’: how much do genetics, environment and behaviour each play a part in an individual’s health?
This long-standing question has been boosted enormously in recent years with the introduce of ‘omics (collective technologies used to explore roles, relationships and actions of the various types of molecules that make up cells).
Featuring two genotyping platforms and a proteomics platform, and the use of DNA methylation and gene expression analysis, the GMEL has supported many landmark PHRI studies over the years, and plays a growing role in PHRI’s current and planned studies – include components of active genetic analysis.
With the 1993 launch of PHRI’s study, HOPE (Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation), the Clinical Research Laboratory and Biobank (CRLB) needed to expand its capacities in collection, transportation and analytics to accommodate samples from the HOPE study’s 9,000 participants in 28 countries.
The long duration of many PHRI studies – ranging from five to 10 years – resulted in the decision to store all samples from -160 C to -180 C (almost twice as cold as before) in nitrogen vapour for long-term stability.
The CRLB-GMEL is instrumental to the Biomarker Discovery Partnership Program initiated in late 2019 with substantial funds from Bayer, and grants and investments from CIHR and HHSRI.
Led by Guillaume Pare and Salim Yusuf, the Executive Director of PHRI, the program aims to identify novel blood biomarkers to predict coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney diseases and diabetes, and link them to genetic markers using sophisticated analysis conducted in the GMEL and accessing about 4 million aliquots of blood and urine in the CRLB biobank linked to clinical data.