WASHINGTON (Sept. 25, 2019) — The AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource (ACSR) has been renewed with the George Washington University (GW) serving as the primary site for the next five years, through a $22 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The ACSR, which was established in 1994 as a cooperative agreement with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), is overseen by principal investigators from the two legacy sites, GW and University of California San Francisco (UCSF).
The ACSR has the largest collections of annotated HIV malignancy specimens globally available to qualified researchers studying HIV and HIV-associated cancers through an established specimen application process. In addition to the sites at GW and UCSF, the ACSR also includes consortia at Baylor Medical College, Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa.
The AIDS epidemic currently affects more than 35 million people worldwide. Infection with HIV is associated with a wide range of long term health complications, including the development of cancer, currently a major cause of death among individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
Previously, the ACSR sites operated under their own awards each with its own principal investigator. In 2013, the sites joined under a single award with two multiple principal investigators (MPI). The ACSR focuses on obtaining important well-annotated biospecimens for research as defined by investigator inquiries and the ACSR’s scientific advisory board.
“Through this grant, we are working to acquire, store, and equitably distribute tumor tissues and biological fluids from individuals with HIV-associated malignancies to meet the biospecimen needs of researchers studying HIV-associated malignancies,” said Sylvia Silver, DA, director of the GW Biorepository, professor of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and one of the MPIs on the project working in collaboration with Michael McGrath, MD, PHD, at UCSF. They are joined by Jeffrey Bethony, PhD, at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Paige Bracci, PhD, at UCSF.
As part of the award, Silver also will serve as the director of the AIDS Malignancy Clinical Trials Consortium (AMC) Biorepositories. The AMC, which is funded by the NCI, engages more than 250 clinicians and conducts clinical trials in the United States, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. Currently, the AMC biorepositories are located at GW for U.S. domestic trials and at Stellenbosch University for African trials.
“During this grant cycle, we also will be assisting NCI in the selection of an ACSR site in Latin America to support AMC clinical trials occurring in the region, and to include specimens from that region in the ACSR,” Silver explained.
Recently, the GW Biorepository earned accreditation by the College of American Pathologists and designation as a core research facility at the university, which is instrumental in GW’s efforts to achieve preeminence as a research institution.