Early diagnosis and effective treatment of mesothelioma is desperately needed. The disease affects 4,000 people in the United States each year and the outcome for those diagnosed is grim. The goal of the NMVB is to support research that will benefit these patients, and prevent future development of the disease. The National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank (NMVB) is led by the collaborative effort of the Departments of Biomedical Informatics, and Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh, and is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The NMVB resource is designed to provide mesothelioma tissue samples with high-quality and well-characterized multimodal annotated data to researchers. The NMVB team strongly believes that progress in translational and clinical research — in cancer as well as other disease areas — depends on the ability of researchers to access high-quality tissue that is associated with meaningful annotation.
The NMVB online data access application provides convenient query access to the data repository. The application presents three levels of access to end users, first, NMVB statistical data for public view, second, approved investigator database query that allows seeing individual patient de-identified clinical data, and third, data manager access to query and edit the stored data. Patient privacy is of utmost importance at all levels of user’s access.
The Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh is one of the innovators in the field of informatics. It has shown extensive expertise in developing efficient, robust, and intuitive tools for tissue banking to support the research community including the Informatics Technology Cancer Center and the Early Diagnosis Research Network for pulmonary malignancies. NMVB NYU site PI, Harvey Pass, is involved in EDRN.
The Research Evaluation Panel (REP) is an independent group of experts that is created by the NMVB Steering Committee in consultation with the CDC program officer. The selection of REP members is based on their qualification, publications, and research experience in the mesothelioma research. The REP member could be a pathologist, biostatistician, physician, or an investigator that has a deep understanding of mesothelioma and has an up to date knowledge of recent advancement in the diagnosis and management of mesothelioma. The REP members work independently but collaboratively with the Coordinating Committee and without conflict of interests with the resource. They are responsible for reviewing requests from investigators for specimens and clinical data and evaluating the scientific merit of the request. The REP members then provide advice about the scientific quality and priority of the request to the resource NMVB Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee is comprised of the Principal Investigators from collaborative sites UPMC, NYU, U. Penn, RPCI and UMD and program managers from Mesothelioma Allied Research Foundation (Meso-foundation), CDC, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The Steering Committee act as the governing body of the resource for developing operating policies that are implemented at each collaborative by their principle investigator. The Committee reviews the operating procedures of the participating sites to insure that they are compatible with the overall goals and policies of the resource and comply with CDC and NIOSH defined specific quality control and tissue processing procedures. The committee also overlooks the specimen requests that are approved by the REP and assure the fulfillment of requests as per resource protocols.
NMVB working group comprises of personnel from all collaborative sites that includes data managers, tissue bank technicians, database administrators, cancer registrars, and research coordinators who handle the day-to-day activities of the project.