Grant Application

Marielle Gross, MD, MBE

Proposed Innovation

Tumor samples taken from breast cancer surgeries are essential for the advancement of precision oncology. At the Institute for Precision Medicine — a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC — scientists use breast cancer tissue samples to create organoids, or 3D living tumor models, to test treatment responses. But patients have no connection their tissue samples once they are submitted for research. They have no way of knowing how their tissue samples are used to help others and may not even benefit from having results translated into their own care.

This project aims to develop an easily accessible and engaging smartphone app patients can use to track research results of their donated tissue on a secure non-fungible token (NFT) biobank platform.

Improvements in Action

The goal of this project is to empower cancer patients to benefit directly from their research contributions. To accomplish this, a dedicated NFT biosample ecosystem is being developed that harnesses blockchain technology to seamlessly embed translational research in the next generation of patient care.

NFTs are digital assets that are provably unique. Through this project, a dedicated, privacy-preserving NFT biobank system will be used to curate and store patient-specific research data. Using a smartphone app, patients will be able to track use of their tissue. The app also will prompt researchers to provide periodic updates.

Intended Outcomes

Using a non-fungible token(NFT) will preserve privacy while providing patients access to results of their tissue donations on their smartphones. It is expected to encourage collaboration and possibly help identify patient-specific treatment.