The Tohoku University Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization (ToMMo) was founded to establish an advanced medical system to foster the reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. ToMMo has been developing a biobank that combines both medical and genome information during the process of rebuilding the community medical system, as well as supporting health and welfare in the Tohoku region. The information from the brand-new biobank will allow a new medical system to be created. Based on the analytical findings, ToMMo aims to attract more medical professionals across the country to the area, promote industry-academic partnerships, create employment in related fields, and lastly reconstruct the medical system in the Tohoku region.
The Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization (ToMMo) was established by Tohoku University in order to promote the Tohoku Medical Megabank (TMM) Project, which started in the same year as the Great East Japan earthquake, in 2011. ToMMo is involved with promoting the project in Miyagi Prefecture, while Iwate Medical University has established the Iwate Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization (IMM) to promote the project in Iwate Prefecture. The Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) oversees the progress of the project and its budget.
In order to make personalized healthcare into a reality, the main operations that ToMMo is involved with include those working with cohorts, the integrated biobank, as well as in specimens and information utilization promotion.
To assess the mid to long-term effects of disaster on the health of the general population in the affected regions, we have established cohort studies. There are approximately 150,000 local residents of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures that have participated in the general population prospective cohort studies. Being also a genomic cohort, we are also able to implement an advanced program in return of genomic results.
The information, specimens and analytical results attained from approximately 150,000 participants of the cohort studies indicated the necessity for a research infrastructure that can consolidate all this data. As a result, ToMMo’s integrated biobank was constructed and is currently in operation. Specimens and information are stored under high quality and adequate security. Additionally, we are building an information infrastructure for genomic information, which contains not only the largest accumulation of genome analysis data in Asia, but also diverse omics information centered on large-scale plasma metabolome analysis data.
Our operation in sample and information utilization promotion involves promoting the use of the large number of samples and information acquired from the TMM Project. We are working to create an environment where researchers in Japan can utilize data together through ‘Data Visiting’, rather than by duplicating the data.
One of the key initiatives of this project is to develop human resources with the expertise and skills necessary to continue such projects and to promote various local and international collaborations in order to be one step closer towards next-generation medicine.