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IU Simon Cancer Center’s tissue bank receives $1M Oracle Grant

The Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center, the only healthy breast tissue repository in the world, is a unique resource that provides new insights into the development of breast cancer by facilitating the comparison of healthy and diseased tissue. While the bank currently maintains fresh frozen tissue specimens from more than 900 volunteer donors, it will never be able to supply all researchers with access to actual samples. The new Oracle grant, however, makes this possible.

“Clearly, the Komen Tissue Bank at IU Simon Cancer Center provides a one-of-a-kind resource for breast cancer research that could quickly speed the day when breast cancer is cured or prevented,” Nancy G. Brinker, Komen’s founder and CEO, said. “With the advent of this generous grant from Oracle, the availability of this innovative resource will exponentially expand, while the cost of conducting experiments will, at the same time, plummet.”

The Oracle grant will help relieve the collection shortage by transforming specimens into digital data available as a free and publicly accessible online resource to any breast cancer researcher in the world. The Komen Tissue Bank team estimates several thousand researchers will use the digitized slides and tissue once the virtual bank is completed.

“Rather than funding research that will address a specific question, this grant from Oracle will enable the Komen Tissue Bank to develop an unprecedented global resource for breast cancer research,” Susan Clare, MD, PhD, co-principal investigator of the tissue bank, said. “This Web-based tissue bank will leverage Oracle’s data management expertise. Once launched, it will enable researchers anywhere and everywhere to join the fight against breast cancer.”
Besides the unlimited experimental possibilities, the more than 10,000 digitized tissue sections make up the world’s first atlas of the normal human breast, from puberty to menopause, and will be viewable using a virtual microscope. World-renowned pathologists will also provide commentary for this project, developed in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.

“Oracle is honored to support this collaborative, innovative effort to end breast cancer,” Oracle President, Safra Catz, herself a Komen Global Ambassador who has joined the fight against breast cancer, said. “This new technological advancement will change the field of breast cancer research and help deliver significant experiment results faster than ever before – results that will save lives.”

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