NIMH Awards $44.5 Million Grant to RUCDR Infinite Biologics
Funding Allows NIMH-Funded Scientists Nationwide to Use RUCDR Infinite Biologics as Primary Resource for Genomic Research
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — RUCDR Infinite Biologics, the world’s largest university-based biorepository, received a $44.5 million Cooperative Agreement award from the National Institute of Mental Health earlier this month to support its NIMH Center for Collaborative Genomics Research on Mental Disorders, which provides services to NIMH-funded scientists engaged in genomic research on mental disorders. RUCDR Infinite Biologics, which recently completed an $11.4 million expansion and renovation, is located on the Busch Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Prof. Jay Tischfield (far right) explains one of the new systems RUCDR has installed to Sen. Robert Menendez (far left) and Rutgers President Robert Barchi. Photo by Nick Romanenko, Rutgers.
The new grant will enable RUCDR Infinite Biologics to collect, process and analyze blood and tissue samples from NIMH-funded scientists nationwide and provide advanced statistical and analytic consultation, which the center has been doing at steadily increasing levels for more than 15 years. Jay A. Tischfield, CEO of RUCDR Infinite Biologics and the Duncan and Nancy Macmillan Distinguished Professor of Genetics at Rutgers, is the grant’s principal investigator. Linda Brzustowicz, Professor and Chair of Genetics, is the Co-Principal Investigator.
“With the new funding, RUCDR Infinite Biologics will implement new meta-analytic approaches for combined analysis of clinical and genetic data in the NIMH Human Genetics Initiative,” said Tischfield. “We also will distribute biomaterials, such as DNA and cell lines, as well as data files to authorized researchers participating in the NIMH initiative. One of our most rapidly growing services is the NIMH Stem Cell Resource for which we collect, characterize and bank source cells, from which we and others establish, characterize and distribute induced pluripotent stem cells.”
The RUCDR Infinite Biologics staff of more than 130 extracts tissues to produce DNA, RNA and other products and conducts genetic analysis on samples it receives. It shares the data with primary researchers and others exploring the genetic factors underlying schizophrenia, autism, Tourette Syndrome and other mental health conditions. Scientists running projects through the NIMH Human Genetics Initiative will provide the Center with primary samples such as blood and with electronic files of de-identified clinical information. Following strict protocols to ensure patient anonymity, the NIMH Center will assist scientists in correlating diagnostic, genetic and demographic information searching for new insights into the causes, progression, and treatment of mental health disorders.
RUCDR Infinite Biologics, which is part of the Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey, has served as NIMH’s primary facility for genetic analysis since 1998. The new grant also provides funds for support services from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Southern California, which are part of the NIMH Center for Collaborative Genetic Studies on Mental Disorders.
Tischfield directs the Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey and is Rutgers’ Duncan and Nancy Macmillan Distinguished Professor of Genetics. His lab studies genomic stability and the genetics of complex human diseases with emphasis on the molecular genetics of mental disorders (autism, Tourette Syndrome) addiction and alcoholism.
Rutgers’ Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey recently received a $2.2 million grant for research into the genetics of autism spectrum disorder, which will be facilitated by RUCDR Infinite Biologics and led by Linda Brzustowicz, professor and chair of Rutgers’ Department of Genetics and RUCDR Infinite Biologics Director of Phenotypic Quality Control. She is the co-inventor of an award-winning autism risk assessment test was developed to help physicians identify younger siblings of children with autism who are at increased susceptibility for ASD. The genetic test, which became commercially available last year, permits earlier diagnosis and intervention options.
RUCDR Infinite Biologics also received a $10 million federal grant last year to provide DNA extraction, genetic testing, DNA sequencing and repository services for more than 46,000 saliva samples, in support of NIAAA efforts to determine the genetic and environmental factors that lead to alcoholism and related conditions.
RUCDR Infinite Biologics’ renovation and expansion was funded by a $9.5 million competitive NIH grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or The Recovery Act, also known as “the stimulus package.” With the facility’s expansion, NIH has named RUCDR Infinite Biologics as the provider of sample processing, analysis, storage, and data management for research projects funded through four of the NIH institutes.
The center will serve government agencies, foundations, and private-sector clients worldwide, including major pharmaceutical companies. RUCDR Infinite Biologics strengthens research and workforce development in New Jersey, creating high-technology jobs and establishing growing partnerships with both the government and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors.
RUCDR Infinite Biologics offers a complete and integrated selection of biological sample processing, analysis, and biorepository services. RUCDR Infinite Biologics provides DNA, RNA, and cell lines with clinical data to hundreds of research laboratories worldwide for studies on mental health and developmental disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, diabetes, and digestive, liver, and kidney diseases. It currently stores more than 12 million biosamples. Revenues average $30 million annually and have exceeded $350 million since 1998. While most of the revenue is from grant-funded research, the level of industry-service income continues to grow, including new contracts with major pharmaceutical companies and academic medical centers.
RUCDR Infinite Biologics has begun to provide clinical diagnostic services to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, supporting the institute’s initiative into personalized or precision medicine, providing diagnostics and treatment based on an individual patient’s genetic profile and that of the tumor. RUCDR Infinite Biologics received accreditation last fall from the College of American Pathologists, a worldwide leader in laboratory quality assurance. Following a rigorous on-site inspection, the College accredited RUDCR Infinite Biologics through its new Biorepository Accreditation Program, making the operation at Rutgers one of the first in the world to earn this designation.
RUCDR Infinite Biologics formed a strategic alliance last year with BioStorage Technologies, its first with a commercial entity. BioStorage Technologies is a global corporation, so the alliance gives the Rutgers operation a worldwide reach. It encompasses biorepository functions, including sample management consulting, study logistics, collection-kit manufacturing, sample storage, and tissue collection. The agreement also covers clinical sample bioprocessing, such as blood fractionation, nucleic-acid extraction, and cell-line establishment, as well as analytical services, such as gene expression, sequencing, and genotyping.