VAI lands $7.9M contract for cancer research

Courtesy Van Andel Institute

Van Andel Institute’s Biorepository is the recipient of a five-year, $7.9 million contract from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, to continue serving as the biorepository for the Cancer Moonshot Biobank study.

This announcement coincides with a Sept. 12 speech made by President Joe Biden on Cancer Moonshot, the 60-year anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s iconic moonshot speech, announcing his goal of sending a man to the moon. Last week, Biden’s speech reminded Americans of his own moonshot goal of ending cancer and the important work of the current phase of Cancer Moonshot, announced by Biden in February.

The Cancer Moonshot, initially funded through the 21st Century Cures Act passed in 2016, brings together a nationwide community of patients, advocates, researchers and clinicians who are dedicated to advancing cancer research with the goals of accelerating discovery, increasing collaboration and expanding data sharing among the research community.

The program’s mission is to reduce the cancer death rate by half within 25 years, while also seeking to improve the lives of people with cancer and cancer survivors.

The current phase of this endeavor is focusing on how the average American can get involved in the project, encouraging citizens to get screened for cancer, quit smoking and help participate in cancer research.

The Cancer Moonshot Biobank aims to accelerate the program’s cancer research through the collection of longitudinal blood and tissue biospecimens from cancer patients representing U.S. population diversity. The biospecimens, generally small biopsies, and accompanying medical data are then made available for nationwide cancer research.

VAI’s role is to assemble and distribute kits to hospitals and medical centers around the U.S. for the collection of tumor tissue, blood and other biospecimens. These samples are then shipped back to the VAI biorepository for processing and then either stored for later study or sent to other organizations for analysis.

“Biospecimens are foundational for discovery,” said Scott Jewell, Ph.D., director of VAI’s Pathology and Biorepository Core. “They allow us to study cancers in deep detail and are crucial for the development of new prevention, diagnostic and treatment strategies. We are honored to be a part of the Cancer Moonshot Biobank study and look forward to contributing to a greater understanding of cancer.”

The Moonshot Biobank study is expected to collect biospecimens from more than 1,000 participants representing the diverse range of the American population. These samples will help illuminate new insights into cancers of the blood, lungs, skin, prostate and gastrointestinal tract, officials said.

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