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Pulse On Health: Become one of thousands aiding research

We are part of The Trust Project.

Mayo Clinic Biobank leaders say they have surpassed 40,000 participants and are "moving quickly toward our goal of 50,000."

I submitted blood samples many months ago and, by my own choice, essentially gave permission for use in perpetuity for anything from disease research to drug development.

Mayo Clinic Biobank includes tight controls on how samples and information can be used. To be biobank-eligible, participants must be at least 18, current or former Mayo Clinic or Mayo Clinic Health System patients, able to give informed consent and living in the United States.

As it moves toward commercialization (to pay costs of maintaining tens of thousands of samples), Mayo consulted with the biobank's Community Advisory Board.

The board advised: strict review before scientists from outside institutions get access to samples or biobank information; that outside groups given access are reputable ones with a similar mission to Mayo's; public transparency about how samples and data get used; and that research results learned by outside institutions become part of the Mayo Biobank, to build its value.

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I'm paraphrasing from BioNews, a Mayo Clinic Biobank newsletter mailed to participants.

Their demographics range in age, with most (10,572) fitting into the 61-to-70 age group, closely followed in number by those 51 to 60 and 71 to 80.

The smallest number of participants includes those age 18 to 30 — 2,563 people, as of the Spring/Summer issue of the newsletter.

Most participants (13,634) are from Olmsted County, including me. But they're also drawn from Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Florida. About 59 percent are female and 41 percent male.

Key to its success, it seems to me, is a diverse population of participants. So if you think you might be part of an underrepresented demographic, my bet is the Biobank will be happy to hear from you.

Already, scientists are working on more than 100 approved projects , including those focused on ideas such as creation of a smoking cessation drug; rare disease testing for inborn metabolism errors; and kidney-stone diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

All you have to do is fill out a detailed questionnaire and give blood samples, granting permission for their use.

In doing so, you can help guide the future of medical knowledge.For information about joining, call 293-0203 or email biobank@mayo.edu.

Related Topics: MAYO CLINIC
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