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Safely saving COVID-19 samples for research

Health partners are building a safe biorepository to preserve COVID-19 samples long-term to support world-class medical research in combatting the virus

The provincial government announced a partnership between six of Alberta’s health foundations for the establishment of a biorepository for human COVID-19 samples in the province.

Watch video here: https://youtu.be/CBSo1ZBQ1bE

Financial support from the Calgary Health Trust, University Hospital Foundation, Alberta Cancer Foundation, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation will cover the full $300,000 capital cost of the biorepository to be located in Edmonton and Calgary. The biorepository will allow for the long-term preservation of positive COVID-19 samples, giving Alberta’s world-class medical-scientific researchers local access to the biological material they need to further study the virus.

There are currently more than 30 research projects in Alberta in need of positive samples to support their coronavirus-related research. These projects are undertaken between the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, involving dozens of Alberta-based researchers. This partnership brings AHS and APL together with the post-secondary, research, and philanthropic communities in our shared goal to combat COVID-19, expand scientific discovery, and keep Albertans healthy now and in the future.

The new biorepository is now safely collecting, cataloguing and storing samples in sophisticated refrigeration equipment. There will be two hubs – one at the University of Alberta and the other at the University of Calgary.

“Research in how to test for, treat and prevent COVID-19 is essential to our healthy future. I commend all the partners on collaborating to make this happen, and I assure all Albertans that the biorepository poses no risk to public health.” – Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“We are thinking about the future and about deeper study of the coronavirus through clinical and academic research. We are extremely grateful to our foundation partners for their contributions towards this project that will benefit Albertans today and for years to come.” – Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

Dozens of Alberta-based researchers working on more than 30 Alberta research projects need the COVID-19 samples to explore things like rapid point-of-care testing, drugs, antibody testing, and genome sequencing. Some studies involve collaborations with scientists across North America.

Building the $300,000 biorepository is a partnership among Calgary Health Trust, University Hospital Foundation, Alberta Cancer Foundation, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation. Alberta Health Services and its subsidiary, Alberta Precision Laboratories, will fund operations and maintenance.

“Calgary Health Trust and our donors recognize that targeted research is needed to enhance our understanding of this highly contagious virus and to accelerate the discovery of effective diagnostics, treatments, and prevention for current and future outbreaks. The partnership between philanthropy and health care means that we can do more faster, and support the innovation that continues to be needed especially during these critical times.” – Mike Meldrum, president and CEO, Calgary Health Trust

Alberta has a comprehensive response to COVID-19 including measures to enhance physical distancing, screening and testing. Financial supports are helping Alberta families and businesses.

View the Alberta Government’s news release here.

Media inquiries:

Martin Schuldhaus
Vice-president, marketing & communications, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation
780.989.7392 | martin.schuldhaus@stollerykids.com

Steve Buick
Press Secretary, Alberta Health
780.288.1735 | steve.buick@gov.ab.ca

James Wood
Communications, Alberta Health Services
403.312.2749 | james.wood@albertahealthservices.ca