Case Study: Realizing the value of biospecimens for life sciences research in IBD


In life science research, speed to discovery is often aided by having relevant biomarkers as surrogate measures to:

  • Inform on different disease states
  • Inform on degrees of target engagement by a candidate therapeutic and/or on pivotal events in the mechanism of action by candidate therapeutic 
  • and/or inform on the eligibility of a patient for a targeted therapy

Using clinical specimens to extract research data such as whole genome sequences of the patient in or the whole genome of a pathogen creates a digital representation of the physical specimen.  Such comprehensive data sets provide foundational real-world evidence for many research studies.  Normally these specimens are discarded as medical waste and procuring specimens just for research is challenging and resource intensive. The Ovation Research Network was established to help our labs to mobilize the value of de-identified and consented remnant clinical specimens to meet  a variety of research needs. 


A top life sciences company expressed the need for a genomic sequencing cohort in order to identify genetic risk factors and/or disease biomarkers for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as part of their research program. Integrated Cellular and Molecular Diagnostics (ICMD), a member lab of the Ovation Research Network since March 2021, participated in these studies by providing access to specimens and performing wet lab research procedures on specimens from patients that might have exhibited inflammatory indications including IBD. Furthermore, the researchers needed access to these data in weeks, a very short turnaround time to procure research data.  ICMD met these challenges in a short time frame and performed the work flawlessly. 


Ovation led these research studies by coordinating several laboratories required to convert the lab’s physical specimens to genomic and phenotypic data. ICMD was instrumental in gathering and organizing the specimens to their lab where their expert histology personnel  trained in the art of sectioning for sequencing cut curls from the blocks in record time. They then conducted total nucleic acid extraction for a subset of samples which were shipped to a sequencing partner lab. DNA and RNA were analyzed via NextGen sequencing to identify genomic and gene expression markers of disease progression.  Ovation’s bioinformatics team and our partner sequencing lab performed the bioinformatics pipeline analysis for Whole Genome Sequences (WGS) to identify germline genetic makeup as well as perform differential gene expression analysis between inflamed and normal tissues.

Ovation, in collaboration with ICMD experts, navigated through third party relationships and operational challenges, including instrument purchases in addition to providing new experimental protocols and new responsibilities for ICMD scientists. This ensured that the samples were appropriately handled amongst parties and delivered to ensure success.  


ICMD met the challenges and delivered curls or extracted DNA and RNA in record time while maintaining clinical operations.

When Ovation approached us with the opportunity to collaborate on research for life sciences, we knew we wanted to be a part of the network. Working with Ovation, we were able to contribute to advance precision medicine and always put the patient first.  It’s been a productive partnership because the same goals drive both our companies”. – Rich Puritz, Vice President

By working with Ovation, life science researchers were able to access previously unavailable genomic data while ICMD gained the infrastructure and scale they needed to provide high quality research data to ultimately improve health outcomes for patients.

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Case Study: Realizing the value of biospecimens for life sciences research in IBD


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