Stanford CVI Biobank Invests iPSCs to Further Research

by David L. M. Preston
April 13, 2023

Banking, which includes the saving and loaning of resources for one’s own and others’ benefits, has a known history of over 4,000 years. Biobanking continues this historical framework, but within modern medical research. Important for large population studies, genomics, and the advancement of personalized medicine, the use of bio-repositories has led to increasingly important healthcare advances in many medical disciplines, especially cardiology.

The Stanford Cardiovascular Institute Biobank (SCVI Biobank) opened its doors in 2014 with the goal of preserving “...patient specific, de-identified human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines....[that] cover a broad spectrum of cardiac diseases, healthy controls, and non-cardiac disease controls”. Founded by the Director of the Stanford Cardiovascular InstituteJoseph C. Wu, MD, PhD, the biobank is a growing library of cell samples that is shared with researchers throughout the world in order to advance their scientific discoveries.

Yan Zhuge, PhD, SCVI Biobank Manager and Senior Research Scientist, explains that patients may consent to donate their cells to the library with a single blood draw. These sample cells are then treated so they revert back to (iPSCs), which have the potential to grow into any cell type in the body. These iPSCs can then be differentiated to heart cells (e.g. cardimyocytes, cardiac fibroblasts, endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and cardiac pericytes) which are then used for research purposes.

Yan Zhuge, PhD, SCVI Biobank Manager, inspects a cyrotank freezer prior to opening it to retrieve an iPSC myocardiocyte sample.

Zhuge says that the SCVI Biobank presently has over 1,700 patient cell lines, with each patient’s Peripheral Blood Monomuclear Cells (PBMCs) being reprogrammed into multiple vials of iPSC cells—with over 1 million cells per vial. Zhuge shared that the biobank is still expanding, and now has a goal of collecting samples from 10-15 patients every week, around 40-50 patients each month, throughout 2023.

“Right now we are trying to recruit from patients with a variety of diseases, including Marfan syndrome, Down’s syndrome Turner syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cancer patients, hearing loss patients, and many others” Zhuge says.

Since cardiac health is impacted by a wide range of disorders, diseases, and environmental factors, the more diverse the samples used for experiments, the more potential there is to catalyze new medical discoveries. All this with just a simple blood draw, without any additional risk to a patients’ health.

Funded continuously from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since its inception, the SCVI Biobank is a highly valuable resource for researchers at Stanford, across the country, and around the world. The cells are provided free to researchers, except for shipping and handling costs. To obtain cell lines please visit the biobank’s Cell Catalog, and complete a Request for Service Application.

The biobank team has also grown in the last year. Led by Drs. Wu, Zhuge, and SCVI Biobank Co-director Karim Sallam, MD, Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, the group has recently recruited four new hires, including new life science researchers, an experienced cell differentiation expert, and a patient recruitment research coordinator.

Looking forward, the SCVI Biobank’s goals include continued growth of its library of cell lines, while also increasing the number of researchers it serves by more internal and external outreach. For more information, to discuss how to donate cells, or to inquire about how the SCVI Biobank can help with your research, please contact the team at



Address: 1050 Arastradero Road, Building A, Palo Alto, CA 94304

Joseph Wu, MD, PhD

Yan Zhuge, PhD

Karim Sallam, MD