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Hucky Land Leads Genome Sequencing Project that Expands Tissue-Banking Partnership

Thursday, August 2, 2018

URMC recently extended a previous tissue-banking agreement with Indivumed, a private company, to include a new partnership for whole genome sequencing. Hucky Land, Ph.D., director of research at the Wilmot Cancer Institute, is leading the partnership with a project to sequence 2,000 colorectal cancer samples from 1,000 patients by the end of the year, and to develop novel software tools enabling complex cancer data analysis in the future.

The latest agreement with Indivumed also enabled the URMC Genomics Research Center (GRC) to purchase a state-of-the-art Illumina NovaSeq6000 DNA sequencer. The equipment signals a new era for genomics at the University, as it will aid research advancing personalized medicine, including discovery of new therapies to improve cancer outcomes. It also allows URMC investigators to perform whole genome sequencing for a fraction of the previous cost.

Based in Germany, Indivumed helped the URMC in 2016 set up a centralized tissue bank for collecting high-quality samples from surgical patients for cancer research. Once a tissue sample is examined to make a diagnosis, the remaining tissue is stored in the "Rochester Cancer Library" and available to URMC, Wilmot, and Indivumed scientists. The samples can be correlated with patient survival data, response to treatment, and other meaningful information for researchers.

In addition to Land, faculty who have been integral to the agreements with Indivumed include Steve Dewhurst, Ph.D., Vice Dean for Research at the SMD; David Linehan, M.D., chair of Surgery, director of Clinical Operations at Wilmot, and a pancreatic cancer researcher, who serves as the supervising investigator for tissue banking; and Bruce Smoller, M.D., chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, who led efforts to operationalize the tissue bank.