MeTRC Effort Receives Supplement Award to Recruit African-American Data for eMERGE Study

Dr. Samuel AdunyahCongratulations to Meharry’s Samuel E. Adunyah, Ph.D., Meharry Clinical and Translational Research Center (MeTRC) PI/PD and his colleagues—Phillip Lammers, M.D, MSCI (medical oncologist), John Murray, M.D (Clinical Translational Research Center director), Sid Pratap, Ph.D. (director of biomedical informatics), Singh Rajbir, MBBS (Clinical Translational Research Center deputy director) and administrative core staff (Ms. Ketia Barnes, Ms. Denise Holland and Ms. Karen Smith)—for their success in pursuing and receiving a supplement award for MeTRC to recruit 500 African Americans as part of the National Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network to collect blood samples from consented study participants—early stage cancer patients and individuals at risk for breast, colon, lung or prostate cancer. Meharry’s eMERGE project was funded by the National Institutes on Minority and Minority Health Disparities (NIMHD).
According to their website, “eMERGE is a national network organized and funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) that combines DNA biorepositories with electronic medical record (EMR) systems for large scale, high-throughput genetic research in support of implementing genomic medicine. In its projects, eMERGE studies and pilots genomic medicine translation through discovery, implementation, tools and policy.” Meharry Medical College is the only HBCU invited to join the National eMERGE Network.
The samples, requested by eMERGE, were sent to a Path Group for DNA extraction, with the withdrawn DNA to be sent to a national eMERGE sequencing lab at Baylor University for germ line sequencing. The sequencing data would be returned to MeTRC.
Participants whose DNA will review actionable genes—such as mutations related to any of those cancers—will be contacted and their results sent to them and their primary care physician via EMR. A genetic counselor will be available to advise them regarding the results and how they could be used for modifying treatment or predicting cancer risks.
After obtaining regulatory approvals and becoming an eMERGE affiliate, Meharry started the recruitment in late April 2017, finishing in early March, 2018.
Additional blood samples for RNA analysis and protein analysis by proteomics were collected. “We are looking forward to seeking eMERGE funding by submitting an application when the PAR for the next eMERGE phase is released,” Dr. Adunyah said. Also, MeTRC is seeking approval from NIMHD to recruit an additional 500 African-American patients with either diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, cancer and HIV/AIDS to donate blood samples for further studies.
In a letter from the National Institutes of Health, National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), Dr. Adunyah was recognized for completing the recruitment. “Please accept our sincere congratulations on rapidly completing recruitment of 500 African-American participants into the Meharry Translational Research Center’s affiliate Clinical Site of the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network,” said the correspondence, signed by Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., NHGRI director, and Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities director. “We appreciate all the hard work you and your staff have contributed towards this effort, and we look forward to important scientific findings from this cohort.”
The recruitment was conducted in the Clinical Translational Research Core (CTRC) of MeTRC and Cancer Clinical Trials Office at NGH. Dr. Adunyah acknowledges the CTRC Staff for their assistance.

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