Molecular Epidemiology Resources Core (MER)

MER Offices: 11510 Pomerantz Family Pavilion (PFP) and 4th Floor Boyd Tower (BT)
Telephone: 1-319-353-6125 or 1-319-356-4502

Email: CancerCenter-MER@healthcare.uiowa.edu

Please complete BioMER Project Request Form to request services and a member of our team will be in touch.

Purpose

The goal of the Molecular Epidemiology Resource (MER) is to establish and maintain cohorts of cancer patients to support a broad range of cutting-edge research that identifies clinical (including co-morbid diseases), epidemiologic (including lifestyle and other exposures), host genetic, tumor, and treatment factors that may impact short- and long-term outcomes including survival and quality of life.

The following three aims of MER support this goal:

  1. Create a network of prospective observational data repositories that utilize highly annotated, prospective, observational data from defined cohorts of cancer patients;
  2. Facilitates research that requires tumor tissue from patients in a MER cohort, obtained in collaboration with the Tissue Procurement Core and the Department of Pathology; and
  3. Supports studies that are dependent on a linkage of clinical and molecular data in collaboration with the Biostatistics Core.

For more information on our disease specific MER Registries, please select the links below.

Molecular Epidemiology Resource (MER) Registries

Breast Tissue Disorders

Principal Investigator: Sonia Sugg, MD
Co-investigator: Sneha Phadke, DO

The Breast Molecular Epidemiology Resource (BMER) enrolls patients who have been diagnosed with a proliferative disorder of the breast or who are at high risk for a breast disorder due to a genetic mutation or other risk factor. BMER banks serum, plasma, peripheral blood (DNA), and buffy coat from participants. Custom blood collections may also be arranged to the meet the specific needs of investigators. In addition to blood samples, BMER collects both normal and tumor tissue from participants who undergo surgery. Clinical and self-reported (co-morbidity & quality of life) data are also available for researchers. To-date, BMER has enrolled over 2,000 participants.


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Genito-Urologic Disorders

Principal Investigator: Kenneth Nepple, MD
Co-investigators: James Brown, MD and Vignesh Packiam, MD
 

The Genito-Urologic Molecular Epidemiology Resource (GUMER) collects serum, plasma, germline DNA, and RNA from patients who have genito-urologic cancers including prostate, bladder, kidney, testis, and penile malignancies. In addition to blood samples, GUMER collects both normal and tumor tissue from participants who undergo surgery. Clinical data and additional blood sample requests are also available for researchers upon request.

Leukemia and Related Disorders

Principal Investigator: Melissa Bates, PhD

The Leukemia Molecular Epidemiology Resource (LeukMER) is a prospective biospecimen bank as well as a longitudinal prospective collection of clinical and psychosocial data for current and future research use in evaluation of Leukemia. This repository can be used for cellular analysis and the extraction of DNA, RNA, and protein.  Specimens that may be obtained and banked are blood, bone marrow, stem cell collection product, and fine needle aspirates, depending upon the standard-of-care procedure that is being performed.

All samples are processed via collaboration with Marrow Procurement Core led by Drs. Melissa Bates & Michael Tomasson.  The LeukMER repository opened in 2019, enrolls 4-6 new patients per month and is also the administrative home of the Iowa Leukemia Registry (2003-2019).

Lymphoma

Principal Investigator: Brian Link, MD

The Lymphoma Molecular Epidemiology Resource (LMER) collects tissue, serum, plasma, peripheral blood (DNA), and buffy coat from patients who have lymphoma or other blood disorders. Patient reported quality of life and clinical data are also available.  Data and specimens are available for more than 2000 patients.

Building on the successful collaboration of the LMER, a proposal for expanding the study to additional sites was funded in 2015. The Lymphoma Epidemiology of Outcomes (LEO) includes six additional sites within the United States and began to enroll patients on July 1, 2015. The Lymphoma Informatics ORIEN Network collaboration, or LION, is a collaboration across eight sites within the United States and began to enroll patients with relapsed or treatment refractory Lymphomas August 1, 2020.

Melanoma

Principal Investigator: Yousef Zakharia, MD
Co-investigator: Aaron Bossler, MD

MaST enrolls new or previously diagnosed patients with melanoma or similar proliferative disorders of the eye, skin, or connective tissue. MaST maintains a repository of clinical data and biospecimen samples. Clinical data variables include pathological diagnostic details and  corresponding treatment intervention. MaST primarily focuses on tissue collection but has stored serum and peripheral blood (DNA) samples. Specific blood samples can be collected upon request.

Multiple Myeloma and Related Disorders

Principal Investigator: Michael Tomasson, MD

The Multiple Myeloma Molecular Epidemiology Resource (MyMER) is a prospective biospecimen bank as well as a longitudinal prospective collection of clinical and psychosocial data for current and future research use in evaluation of Myeloma & related disorders.  This repository can be used for used for cellular analysis and the extraction of DNA, RNA, and protein.  Specimens that may be  collected include bone marrow, stem cells, and fluid and cells from fine needle aspirate biopsies of patients who have multiple myeloma.

All samples are processed via collaboration with Marrow Procurement Core led by Drs. Michael Tomasson & Melissa Bates.  The MyMER repository opened in 2014 and enrolls 6-8 new patients per month.

Pancreatic, Biliary, and Gastrointestinal Disorders

Principal Investigator: Carlos Chan, MD, PhD

The GI-MER banks serum, plasma, and germline DNA from patients who have pancreatic, biliary, or gastrointestinal disorders. In addition to blood samples, GI-MER collects both normal and tumor tissue from participants who undergo surgery. Clinical data are also available for researchers upon request.

Sarcoma and Connective Tissue Disorders

Principal Investigator: Jonathan Davick, MD
Co-Investigators: Benjamin Miller, MD, MS & Varun Monga, MD, MBBS

The Connective Tissue Proliferative Disorder Clinical Data & Tissue  Sample Collection Project (STiR) enrolls patients with sarcoma or connective tissue or similar proliferative disorders of the bone, skin, and connective tissues. STiR banks serum & peripheral blood (DNA) from participants. Custom blood collections may also be arranged to the meet the specific needs of investigators. In addition to blood samples, STiR collects both normal and tumor tissue from participants who undergo surgery. Clinical and self-reported (co-morbidity, quality of life, & environmental exposure) data are also available or researchers.