BMC Cancer. 2008 Aug 13;8(1):236. [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Amin W, Parwani AV, Schmandt L, Mohanty SK, Farhat G, Pople AK, Winters SB, Whelan NB, Schneider AM, Milnes JT, Valdivieso FA, Feldman M, Pass HI, Dhir R, Melamed J, Becich MJ.


Background: Advances in translational research have led to the need for well characterized biospecimens for research. The National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank (NMVB) is an initiative which collects annotated datasets relevant to human mesothelioma to develop an enterprise biospecimen resource to fulfill researchers’ need.

Methods: The NMVB architecture is based on three major components: (a) common data elements (based on CAP protocol and NAACCR standards), (b) clinical and epidemiologic data annotation, and (c) data query tools. These tools work interoperably to standardize the entire process of annotation. The NMVB tool is based upon the caTISSUE Clinical Annotation Engine (CAE), developed by the University of Pittsburgh in cooperation with the Cancer Biomedical Informatics GridTM (caBIGTM, see This application provides a web-based system for annotating, importing and searching mesothelioma cases. The underlying information model is constructed utilizing Unified Modeling Language (UML) class diagrams, hierarchical relationships and Enterprise Architect (EA) software. Result: The database provides researchers real-time access to richly annotated specimens and integral information related to mesothelioma. The data disclosed are tightly regulated depending upon users’ authorization and depending on the participating institute that is amenable to the local IRB and regulation committee reviews.

Conclusion: The NMVB currently has over 600 annotated cases available for researchers that include paraffin embedded tissues, tissue microarrays, serum and genomic DNA. The NMVB is a virtual biospecimen registry with robust translational biomedical informatics support to facilitate basic science, clinical, and translational research. Furthermore, it protects patient privacy by disclosing only de-identified datasets to assure that biospecimens can be made accessible to researchers.