BioBank PI: JM Hock Clinical Team: Ms. M Chavaree, P Helbig & D Goodspeed (2008-2010), D Morrison (2011- )
Bioinformatics Analyst: C Farah
Published literature suggests that Maine is one of 9 US States with the lowest recruitment of cancer patients and elderly subjects into cancer research. Santaren, W. B., et al., J. Clin. Oncology, 2002. Our research contradicts this conclusion by showing that patients in Maine are very willing to participate in cancer research on biobanking.
MIHGH created a Biobank for cancer research that complies with Best practices published by both the International Society for Biobanking and Environmental Research and National Cancer Institute Best Practices. Because research on all human subjects requires regulatory oversight, our protocols were reviewed and approved by Eastern Maine Medical Center Institutional Board and the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) Office of Research Protections (ORP) Human Research Protections Office (HRPO).
We successfully recruited 108 patients with cancer requiring surgical removal; and found 85 were eligible as they met our protocol requirements for participation. Of the eligible patients, 83 (98%) gave informed consent and donated tissues, blood and geocoded information.
When MIHGH lab was closed by EMHS, NCI Tissue Repository assumed custodianship of the biospecimens so they can continue to be accessed for approved research by NCI or MIHGH investigators. All our patients were re-contacted to ask their approval; and only those who approved had their specimens transferred to NCI Tissue Repository. MIHGH retains custodianship of the data.
Work reported at national meetings:
Biobank & UserGateWay Team
- Janet M Hock, BDS, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator: JM Hock, BDS, Ph.D. with co-investigator C Farah, Ph.D. and Clinical Research Project Coordinator, Ms D Morrison
Janet M Hock, BDS, Ph.D. Principal Investigator brings an unusual mix of career experiences and scientific executive expertise to her work. She directs multidisciplinary environmental oncology and community-based participatory research programs in Maine that included creation of an innovative BioGeoBank, integrating information from a cancer tissue repository with geographic information system (GIS) and genomic technologies to map behavioral and environmental exposures linked to health risks. Her group is developing UserGateWay software to support new models of health risk assessment in humans exposed to combinations of environmental exposures.
Janet M Hock, BDS, Ph.D.
“We must conceive of stewardship not simply as one individual’s practice, but rather as the mutual and intimate relationship extending across generations, between a human community and its place on earth” J Elder. 1997.
Our first donor asked MIHGH to conduct research to improve the health of people in Maine. In response, we mapped respiratory diseases and cancers, analyzed data from cancer subjects participating in our biobank research, learnt how to conduct community-based participatory research with our Eastport and UMaine partners, and mentored students. I feel great respect and gratitude to the people, businesses and state agencies in Maine’s rural communities for supporting the work of MIHGH. They have helped us understand the “mutual and intimate relationship extending across generations, between a human community and its place on earth” in their desire to improve the health of the next generation through research on the health risks of their generation .
- Christopher Farah, Ph.D.
Christopher Farah, Ph.D.
The original team working on radon exposure maps of Maine, from the left: Student intern: Amelia Neally, Wellesley College; Eleanor Lacombe, Clinical Research Associate and Peter Rand, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Portland, ME; Professor CT Hess, Ph.D., U Maine; E Melanie Lanctot, Office of Substance Abuse, Maine DHHS; Project Leader: Chris Farah, MIHGH; and Keith R Brown, Criterium-Brown Engineers, Washburn, ME
Christopher Farah will join The Polis Center and Center for Health Geographics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a postdoctoral fellow in April 2012.
He received a B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering from The Cooper Union, a M.A. in Mathematics from St. Louis University and a Ph.D. from the Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering, University of Maine. Christopher successfully completed a National Science Foundation IGERT Research Traineeship under the guidance of his Ph.D. advisor, Michael Worboys. The focus of Christopher’s dissertation was the formal design and computer evaluation of a distributed event-detection algorithm using concepts from algebraic topology and graph theory. The findings were published in journal IET Wireless Sensor Systems.
Under the mentorship of Janet M. Hock, B.D.S., Ph.D., senior investigator, Christopher has been a spatial statistics lead on GIS projects in the health informatics sector, at Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health. Spatial autocorrelation methods have been employed to compute disease clusters and identify associations between these clusters and environmental risk factors. Christopher has also been involved in developing a GIS-enabled, web-based cancer informatics software application, User Gateway, with his mentor. Christopher’s role in the project has included writing the system specification, formulating use cases with stakeholder input, co-developing the database schema, guiding technology stack selection, creating mock-up interfaces, deploying and testing software iterations, and generally acting as a liaison between internal and external systems and non-systems stakeholders.
During his postdoctoral appointment, Christopher will marry his mathematics and information systems backgrounds to support a broad-scale public health project.
He and The Polis Center at IUPUI will continue to collaborate with Dr. Hock on UserGateWay software.
- Deborah Morrison
Clinical Research Project Coordinator, BioGeoBank
Ms. Morrison is interested in participant recruitment for clinical studies and specializes in high risk individuals and families with health disparities. Excellent communication skills and relationship building are utilized to help patients understand the value of research participation. Deborah works with Dr. Hock to complete quality control and assurance of all specimens and data collected from cancer patients in the BioGeoBank. This work was reported at the 2012 NCI Biobanking Research Network symposium. Ms. Morrison has also worked with Dr. Hayes to recruit opiate-dependent pregnant women into an NIH-funded research study. She is currently completing her MA degree at the University of Maine under the mentorship of Dr. Hayes. Her thesis work reports on the incidence of ocular abnormalities in opiate-exposed infants.