Coriell Institute Awarded $9.2M Biobanking Grant from National Institute of General Medical Sciences


The Coriell Institute for Medical Research has been awarded a $9.2 million grant through an open competition from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). This five-year award keeps Coriell in place as the steward of the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository, a world-renowned collection of high quality cell lines and DNA samples representing genetic diseases, distinct human populations around the world, and more.

“Coriell has been the trusted steward of the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository since its inception at Coriell in 1972 and we are eager to continue this collaboration into the future,” said Nahid Turan, PhD, Coriell’s Chief Biobanking Officer. “In the almost five decades of this collection’s existence, it has become a critical part of the global research infrastructure, offering scientists around the world one-of-a-kind biological samples they can trust to enable their research.”

The NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository holds and distributes over 11,700 unique cell lines, and more than 6,300 DNA samples. It also contains nearly 60 human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines, a growing focus of the collection. These samples represent a wide variety of disease states, chromosomal abnormalities, and samples from apparently healthy individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

A particularly important aspect is the collection of samples representing genetic disorders, including some of the rarest in the world. More than 1,000 such heritable diseases are represented in the Human Genetic Cell Repository and the numbers grow each year. To expand this part of the collection, Coriell has for years fostered strong relationships with the rare disease community, facilitating the donation of tissue samples from affected individuals and their families.

“The importance of the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository in the rare disease community cannot be overstated,” said Deborah Requesens, PhD, the Principal Investigator of this collection at Coriell. “It allows patients and families to participate in research, making their own samples available to scientists around the world. When patients donate to the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository, they are contributing in a tangible way to the discovery of treatments and cures for their disease.”

This year, Coriell hosted its first Rare Disease Day at Coriell in honor of this international recognized day, to raise awareness for research into rare diseases. Rare Disease Day at Coriell honored the patient advocates who often have a personal connection to the diseases they advocate for, and who are actively responsible for pushing for more attention, funding, and research for their disease. Guest speakers came to Coriell from across the country to tell their individual stories of advocacy.

In recent years, the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository collection has grown to include human iPSC lines. These stem cells are created—or “reprogrammed”—from existing adult cells such as blood or skin, in the Coriell Institute’s Stem Cell Laboratory. These lines are particularly treasured by researchers for their versatility (they can be differentiated to create almost any of the over 200 cell types in the human body) and the potential they hold for enabling in vitro research studies, especially in drug discovery and therapeutics.

“South Jersey continues to lead the way in medical research, and having the Coriell Institute right in our backyard sets us apart,” said Congressman Donald Norcross. “Coriell is one of the most respected biobanks in the world, and this grant will keep in place one of its most valued collections. I’m excited to see what our researchers will discover next.”

For many years, the collection has also provided samples to multiple Reference Materials groups, which now includes the All of Us research program, an initiative designed to advance research into individualized health care.

Since its establishment at Coriell in 1972, samples from the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository have been referenced by thousands of scientific publications across the world. Samples from the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository are available at

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