Partners in Discovery

The Partners in Discovery program at UVA comprises several national organizations that aim to advance oncology and translational research by providing researchers access to large collections of biospecimens and rich datasets with patient clinical and molecular data.

They include:

  • the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN), a consortium of 16 cancer centers across the United States;
  • the Cooperative Human Tissue Network (CHTN), sponsored by the National Cancer Institute;
  • and the Applied Proteogenomics and Learning Outcomes (APOLLO) program, supported by the federal Cancer Moonshot initiative.


Since 2015, when UVA first started the Partners in Discovery program, we have amassed an enormous amount of clinical data, biospecimens, and molecular data from our patient partners who have consented to and signed the Partners in Discovery for Total Cancer Care protocol.

Clinical data is collected when patients come to UVA for their appointments, diagnoses, treatments, or surgeries. This data allows our researchers to study risks for cancer based on factors such as demographics (population data), locations, and pre-existing conditions, to name a few. Clinical data is also important for tracking survival.

Biospecimens may be collected from patient blood, cheek swabs, saliva, bone marrow aspirates, and when there is leftover tissue from surgeries.

Molecular data consists of genomics (whole exome sequencing), transcriptomics (RNAseq), and proteomics (this is something that will become available through the APOLLO program).

As of spring 2023, nearly 10,000 patients at UVA alone have consented and allowed their clinical data, biospecimens, and molecular data to be collected and made available to researchers. Paired biospecimens have been collected for thousands of patient partners, and genetic data have been obtained from nearly 1,000 people. Having such a large dataset from so many patients with different cancer types gives our researchers the opportunity to observe and understand cancer at every level, from specific gene mutations to population statistics.

Partners in Discovery Sanke Graph

Total Cancer Care: Data & Tissue Repository

At UVA, ORIEN’s Total Cancer Care (TCC) protocol is called Partners in Discovery for Total Cancer Care and referred to as the ORIEN protocol. TCC collects blood and tissue samples, including associated demographic and clinical data (survey data, medical records data, cancer registry data, and other related data), from thousands of patients with cancer or at risk of having cancer. Additionally, the ORIEN AVATAR program collects paired tumor and non-tumor tissue for whole exome sequencing and RNA sequencing. We’ll work with you and the IRB to set up your study. Find out how to get patients involved in this research.