The Specimen Acquisition Network (SAN) was founded in 2019 as a response to increasing demand by researchers for access to specimens in a timely manner. The SAN is a network of Pacific Northwest human health-centered institutions focused on supporting and accelerating innovation in patient care, all of us collaboratively working toward the goal of facilitating access to specimens for our research communities.
To provide reliable and cost-effective access to high-quality human tissue, blood, other body fluid samples, and associated clinical and specimen annotation data for innovative diagnostic, therapeutic, and public health sciences cancer research.
Our goal in establishing and continuing to develop the Specimen Acquisition Network is to:
To expand access to specimens, we unite several prominent Pacific Northwest research and healthcare institutions in a collaborative network. Working together, we can leverage our collective resources and diverse strengths to support research beyond our individual institutions and help drive forward research across the entire region.
To address the need for timely specimen acquisition, we are streamlining the process of finding and requesting specimens by creating shared template materials that can quickly be put in motion between our network partners.
Our coordinating center cross talks between our network partners and supports researchers before, during, and after specimen acquisition. These supportive services are catered toward clarifying necessary paperwork, logistics, and processes while also pointing toward expert advice, best practices, process workflows, and other valuable resources. Providing these services reduces the time investment needed by an individual researcher and gives them more time to focus on making their next big discovery.
Our contributing organizations have specimen infrastructures and programs that researchers outside of immediate affiliation may not be aware of. We help shine a light on the tremendous biobanking efforts already underway within our region.
We direct researchers toward accepted resources and protocols to inform on best practice. We believe peer knowledge exchange, collaboration, and cross-institutional efforts are important. To this end, we will help connect you with experts or peers in the field for informed guidance or collaborative opportunities.
The SAN directly supports accelerated translational research within our communities.
Translational research involves bringing new methods of prevention, diagnostics, and treatments from the research world into the lives of the people who need them. Translational research requires key information and resources to be available to researchers as they are doing their work. The Seattle Translational Tumor Research (STTR) group, based out of Fred Hutch, supports translational cancer research for 15 tumor-specific research programs in the Seattle area. They created the concept of the translational research pipeline as a way to break out the key areas where infrastructure and resources are needed to support the work of their groups. They use the pipeline as a framework for strategically addressing needs to speed research to clinical impact.
A key component of the translational pipeline is access to participant data and specimens. Specimens are tissue or fluid samples donated by patients or volunteers which provide an invaluable resource to study all states of health and disease. Access to unique specimens allows researchers to study how specific diseases begin, progress, and could potentially be treated. Conversely, insufficient access can halt a research project completely, or stop it from beginning at all.
Access to specimens is one of the first steps in the translational research lifecycle which is a multi-step process reliant on the collective expertise of teams from various backgrounds, including research teams asking new questions, data analysts interpreting results, clinicians working directly with patients, software developers designing research-focused systems and algorithms, and many other supporting arms. Without specimens, the downstream research cannot advance.
The role of the SAN is to enable and speed access to the specimens required to drive health research forward, and improve lives.
We provide scientific impact for our research communities through informed, accelerated, and streamlined specimen acquisition and downstream research supportive services.
As the SAN continues to grow, we will be updating this page with research projects that have been supported, new projects and collaborations that were enabled or inspired by the network and links to all resulting publications, and other measures of impact for our scientific community. This information will be shared in annual reports highlighting the impact of this network on research and patient care in the Pacific Northwest.