AIM at Melanoma Opens the Second Branch of Fresh Frozen Primary Tissue Bank at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center


September 9, 2019 (San Rafael, California) AIM at Melanoma announces the grand opening of the second branch of the International Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium (IMTBC) at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco.  The San Francisco site is one of six global locations of the consortium. These six institutions and their researchers will collect a critical mass of fresh-frozen primary tumor tissue for collaborative research—500 samples and corresponding patient data in the next two years—and then perform much-needed research with those samples to answer some of melanoma’s most critical questions, such as, Who will develop melanoma, and why?  Whose melanomas will spread and become deadly? Which drugs will work on which patients?

A fresh-frozen primary tissue bank—fully annotated and collaborative—has never been achieved before in melanoma, and it has taken more than a decade of dedicated work to accomplish.  The IMTBC is a global first because of the following combination of factors:

  • It’s a consortium—the six institutions are sharing data and tissue samples with each other
  • It’s collaborative—researchers around the world can apply to obtain tissue samples and data for research
  • The tissue will be fresh frozen—RNA is preserved, unlike in the standard formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded process
  • The tumors are primary—not metastasized
  • There will be a critical mass—a goal of 500 in the first two years, and continued collection thereafter
  • Full annotation will accompany each tissue—patient data, including full medical history (depersonalized), will be available for study along with the tissue
  • Samples will accompany each tissue—blood and urine samples will be collected for each patient

“Researchers have never before had access to such a considerable number of fresh-frozen primary tissues AND the corresponding patient data.  These samples and data will open an entirely new door for research.  The potential for significant findings is enormous,” says Mohammed Kashani-Sabet, M.D., director of the Center for Melanoma Research and Treatment and medical director of the Cancer Center at CPMC.  “The primary tumor holds the entire genetic code.  To understand and conquer melanoma—to decipher the code—we must study primary tumor tissue.  To study primary tissue, we must bank it, and now, thanks to IMTBC and AIM at Melanoma, we have the mechanism and means to do just that. Developing this bank exemplifies Sutter’s commitment to innovation, and collaboration with partners focused on improving care for our patients.”

CPMC San Francisco is one of six branches of the IMTBC—four in the United States and two in Australia.  The first site to open was at the University of Pittsburgh, Hillman Cancer Center earlier this year. The remaining locations have approved their contracts to become fully functioning branches of the IMTBC and are awaiting only final details before they too will open and accelerate the collection of tissue.  All of the institutions were selected because of their renowned melanoma research programs, and CPMC San Francisco was selected in particular because the bank was the brainchild of Dr. Kashani-Sabet and AIM at Melanoma’s Founder & President, Valerie Guild.

“Dr. Kashani-Sabet and I discussed this dream of opening a collaborative fresh-frozen tissue bank 15 years ago, just months after my daughter died of melanoma,” says Guild.  “And once we decided to pursue it, I can remember so many researchers telling me that while the bank would be an incredible resource, they just didn’t see how it could be accomplished.  But I’m proud to say we’ve done it, and a critical mass of fresh-frozen primary tumor tissue—the ‘holy grail of resources for melanoma researchers’—will be available for researchers all over the world to apply to use.”

IMTBC is a 501(c)(3) created by AIM at Melanoma and funded by donations to AIM as well as to Chicago-based Skin of Steel, a non-profit founded by Susan Steel, who passed away from melanoma in 2016.  Interested donors and researchers are welcome to query Alicia Rowell.

ABOUT THE AIM AT MELANOMA FOUNDATION:  Melanoma is one of the fastest-growing cancers in the United States and worldwide. It’s one of the most complex forms of cancer and has the most mutations of all solid cancers. Founded in 2004, AIM at Melanoma is a global foundation dedicated to finding more effective treatments and, ultimately, the cure for melanoma while improving the lives of those it affects. AIM’s global research initiatives include The International Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium, The Melanoma International Collaboration for Adaptive Trials, and the International Melanoma Working Group.  AIM at Melanoma provides education, connection to resources and opportunities for meaningful engagement to help patients and caregivers/families better face the challenges of melanoma. For more information, visit and follow our groundbreaking initiatives on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

ABOUT SUTTER HEALTH: Sutter Health is more than 60,000 people strong thanks to its integrated network of clinicians, employees and volunteers. Headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., Sutter Health provides access to high quality, affordable care for more than 3 million Northern Californians through its network of hospitals, medical foundations, urgent and walk-in care centers, home health and hospice services. Nearly 14,000 physicians and advanced practice clinicians care for Sutter patients. For more information about the Sutter Health network visit:| | |