AIDS and cancer specimen bank at UCSF renamed and funded for five more years

By Jeff Sheehy

The National Cancer Institute has funded for five additional years the AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource centered at UCSF.  AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource (ASCR) is the new name for the AIDS and Cancer Specimen Bank, a program that has been in existence nine years.

“We have been operating as the country’s leading nationwide, and soon international, multi-site collection program that includes a “bank” of specimens for investigators in such fields as HIV/AIDS, related cancer and virology,” said Michael S. McGrath, MD, PhD, UCSF professor of laboratory medicine, and principal investigator for the ACSR Central Operations and Data Coordinating Center.

ACSR is expanding its existing specimen program with a broadened scope of collection, new technologies, and a new central coordinating office at UCSF that will manage central database functions, application processing and outreach activities.  The office will also address human subject research issues relevant to its services. 

“The name change follows a strategic reconfiguration of our operations and more accurately reflects the expansion of our services to researchers. In the future, ACSR will act as an advocate for researchers by seeking out on their behalf materials not currently in ACSR’s possession,” said McGrath.

Funded by the National Cancer Institute, ACSR is the country’s leading multi-site source for well-documented tissue and biological samples and serves investigators working in the fields of HIV/AIDS and cancer, virology, immunology, pathology, epidemiology, tumor biology, and assay development-as well as others. ASCR is a repository for HIV-infected human materials from a wide spectrum of HIV-related or associated diseases-including cancer-and from appropriate HIV-negative controls. 

“We have more than one million specimens in our database.  Plus, we are coordinating new sources of specimens from around the globe, including China, Thailand, and South America,” said McGrath.

Besides operating its large existing specimen bank, ACSR, upon request, searches for and acquires specimens not currently in the bank to meet the special needs of approved investigations. In addition to UCSF, ACSR sites include George Washington University and Ohio State University as well as collaborative sites that together constitute an international network.

A description of the ASCR, available specimens, how to request specimens, as well as contact information are available on the ASCR website, ASCR.