UCSF Names First-Ever Chief Biobank Officer

New Position Underscores Fundamental Role of Biobanking in Research and Precision Medicine

By Shelley Wong

Rohit Gupta headshot

Rohit Gupta

Unlocking the potential in biospecimens for medical breakthroughs is among the cornerstones of precision medicine. Signaling its continued commitment to pioneering research, UC San Francisco has appointed Rohit Gupta as its inaugural Chief Biobank Officer (CBO). His appointment, which follows a national search, is effective June 19.

Gupta will oversee UCSF’s biobank infrastructure, including UCSF BIOS, a program designed to provide comprehensive support for the “life cycle” of human research biospecimens to enhance their use in the life sciences. As CBO, Gupta will work closely with Harold Collard, MD, associate vice chancellor of clinical research, and Scott VandenBerg, MD, PhD, BIOS’s faculty director.

“Rohit has a compelling vision for next-generation biobanking that will enable cutting-edge biomedical research across the UCSF enterprise. We are thrilled to have him join UCSF and lead our biobank team,” Collard said.

As CBO, Gupta will lead UCSF’s biospecimen initiatives, working closely with UCSF Health; UCSF's academic departments; UCSF research organizations such as the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute (BCHSI), ImmunoX, and UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research (CFAR); and Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, an independent research organization that partners with UCSF.

“Rohit brings impressive expertise to UCSF at a critical time for our University. Through greater collaboration across campus and integration with UCSF Health, our researchers will have access to high-quality, well-characterized biospecimens that will catalyze innovative science,” said Lindsey Criswell, MD, MPH, DSc, vice chancellor of research at UCSF.

One of Gupta’s top priorities is building a biospecimen community dedicated to the common goals of precision medicine. Through the establishment of the UCSF Precision Biobank, BIOS will provide an electronic biobank consent, point-of-care specimen collection through partnerships with UCSF Health, standardized specimen processing and banking protocols, and integration of biological and clinical data through leveraging the strength of UCSF’s computational infrastructure. Gupta aspires to help researchers accelerate novel discoveries in human biology by improving the utilization of specimens and data. To that end, Gupta will work closely with BCHSI and CTSI to support a first-in-class digital integration of biospecimen ‘omics’ data with electronic medical record and other research data.

“Of course, the safe and proper use of biomedical samples and their associated data is critically important to get right. Rohit brings a level of expertise and professionalism to this role, so that our patients can trust UCSF to use these samples with the utmost respect, while making sure we continue to make progress on diagnosing, treating, and understanding the disorders our patients have,” said Atul Butte, MD, PhD, director of BCHSI and chief data scientist of UC Health.

To serve the multi-site UCSF research community, another early priority will be to further develop the biobank infrastructure to provide centrally coordinated, but functionally dispersed biospecimen services enterprise-wide. VandenBerg envisions the future of BIOS as a program deeply connected to UCSF’s core health systems.

“When biobanking is done optimally, exceptional patient care goes hand-in-hand with attaining excellent research specimens,” said VandenBerg.

Gupta is leaving his role as a founding member and executive director of the Stanford Biobank at Stanford University, where he concurrently held the role of executive director of the Clinical and Translational Research Unit. “I am very excited to help UCSF researchers continue to unlock the promise of precision medicine through advancements in biobank infrastructure and resources for all scientists,” said Gupta.