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Cleveland Clinic and Brooks Automation Open State-of-the-Art BioRepository in Fairfax Neighborhood

Cleveland Clinic and Brooks Automation have opened a biorepository that will increase the storage capacity for biologic samples at Cleveland Clinic, while enhancing researchers’ study of human tissue samples to more rapidly translate laboratory discoveries into new treatments for patients.

Located on Cedar Avenue in Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood, the Cleveland Clinic BioRepository is the first building to open in the recently announced Cleveland Innovation District, a public-private partnership aimed at transforming Northeast Ohio into an economic engine for biomedicine.

The initiative brings the State of Ohio, JobsOhio and Ohio Development Services Agency together with Cleveland’s healthcare and higher education institutions to create jobs, accelerate research and educate the workforce of the future.

The 22,000-square-foot ultra-cold and cryogenic repository will store biological samples that will be used in research projects at Cleveland Clinic, partner institutions and the life science research community. The facility is managed by Azenta Life Sciences, Brooks’ recently re-branded life sciences division, a provider of sample exploration and management solutions with secure sample and material storage facilities across the United States and around the world.

“The storage of biological samples safely and efficiently is an integral part of the research process allowing researchers to focus on breakthroughs in areas such as personalized medicine and therapeutic development,” added Sarah Eckenrode, Ph.D., Vice President, Sample and Repository Solutions, Azenta Life Sciences. “The onsite sample biorepository standardizes sample collection, processing and storage protocols to increase scalability and efficiencies for Cleveland Clinic’s high-value collections of biological material.”“Biobanking is essential for the evolution of personalized medicine for conditions such as heart disease, cancer and epilepsy,” said Serpil Erzurum, M.D., Cleveland Clinic’s Chief Research and Academic Officer. “This technologically advanced biorepository in the heart of the new Cleveland Innovation District will enable research that allows us the knowledge to provide the best care for all people as part of Cleveland Clinic’s mission: caring for life, researching for health, educating those who serve.”

All patient information will be stored in a secure environment to protect patient confidentiality, using state-of-the-art customized systems for superior analytics and informatics capabilities. Specimens will be linked to electronic medical record data to analyze the course of diseases and treatments. 

The biorepository also will serve as a community resource to improve awareness of ongoing research and career opportunities in the medical field. The biorepository features the Research Access Center where members of the local community can learn more about medical research and participation. The community room also will serve as an educational resource for students in the Fairfax community to meet and interact with healthcare professionals to learn about careers in medicine, the health professions and health sciences.  

“The Research Access Center is a key part of the biorepository and aims to ensure that our research serves diverse populations, addresses health disparities, and helps us educate a diverse next generation of researchers,” said Dr. Erzurum.

The biorepository also features a unique outdoor public art installation, titled “Dawn,” by internationally renowned multimedia artist Jacolby Satterwhite. Developed in collaboration with residents of the surrounding Fairfax neighborhood, Satterwhite created a 3D-animated virtual reality video to be displayed on a screen embedded in a freestanding wall covered with artist-designed wallpaper. In addition to the screen outside the biorepository, the public can view the video on smartphone devices.

Satterwhite’s work is inspired by the solace he found in video game fantasy worlds during his childhood hospitalization with osteogenic sarcoma. The source material for the animation comes from Fairfax residents and Cleveland Clinic caregivers.

With the assistance of a community facilitator, participants were asked to create a sketch or brief text describing a utopic future for the neighborhood. Those contributions were transformed by Satterwhite and used in the video to create a tribute to residents’ observations, hopes and dreams that will serve as a lasting link to the community. This project was commissioned by Cleveland Clinic in collaboration with FRONT International, with community support from Karamu House.

Geis Companies was the builder of the Cleveland Clinic BioRepository and GLSD Architects, LLC was the architect.