1. What does Tampa Bay Research Institute do and how is it different from other research institutes or charities?
TBRI is dedicated to the study, cure and prevention of cancer and chronic infectious diseases. We are similar to a number of other research institutes in the U.S. and abroad in that we are interdisciplinary in nature and focused on biomedical research. However, we are somewhat different in that we are dedicated to exploring unique biological pathways of the human immune system as they relate to several diseases, rather than maintaining a focus on a single disease. In addition, TBRI provides valuable community health education that is backed by the latest biomedical research.
2. Are you affiliated with any universities or hospitals in the local area or internationally?
TBRI is not formally affiliated with any university or hospital; however, we are available to and actively collaborate with universities and hospitals throughout the world as a scientific resource.
We are an independent biomedical research institute. Our independence allows us to be a neutral, science-based entity. We believe this flexibility enables us to rapidly focus our resources on promising areas of scientific study rather than on other, non-scientific requirements sometimes imposed by certain funding sources. Best of all, we are available to serve all institutions and colleges that require our assistance or cooperation, upon request.
Over the last 30 years, TBRI has conducted scientific collaborations with a number of prestigious institutions, including All Children’s Hospital, Eckerd College, Emory University in Atlanta, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UCLA, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the Kitasato Institute in Japan, the Moffitt Cancer Center at the University of South Florida (USF), North Carolina State University in Raleigh, St. Pete College (SPC), Suncoast Hospital in Largo, Tampa General Hospital, the University of Chicago, and the University of Montreal in Canada.
To date, TBRI has trained over 100 undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and abroad, as well as a number of postdoctoral fellows.
3. What research projects does the Institute currently have under way?
TBRI is currently focusing on the following research projects:
4. How is TBRI funded?
TBRI obtains its funds through private foundation and government grants, contributions, income from special events, and a membership program.
This has evolved over the years from almost all government grants during the first 15 years, to all private contributions and foundation grants during the following 15 years, to a combination of funding sources in the past year and a half. Details are published in our Annual Report.
We are proud that only about 10% of our funding is earmarked for development. The balance is devoted to research and administration. According to the Good Practices Standards as recognized by the Association of Fund Raising Professionals (AFP), development costs may typically run as high as 25% for a non-profit organization. TBRI has maintained this figure at 5-10% over the past fifteen years. Our operating costs and income are audited annually by an accredited CPA firm and are summarized in our Annual Report and made available to the public at our annual membership reception. Such data are also available upon request.
Yes. They are also available from Guidestar via the internet. It is required by law that we provide these returns to anyone upon request.
5. What areas of research does TBRI plan to address, based upon results obtained from your outstanding or pending grants?
At any given time, TBRI has numerous grants on the drawing board that address various chronic and infectious diseases, as well as health education program grants. We hope to continue to expand our efforts in all of these areas. Since TBRI is a non-profit organization, we must control our costs and carefully plan our growth; therefore, grants and community contributions are very important components in ensuring the continuity of our work.
6. The Pine Cone extract: What is it?
The extract was developed through TBRI’s research efforts. Technically, it is termed PPC (a polyphenylpropenoid-polysaccharide complex). It was initially sold as a dietary supplement to the general public by a third party. However, due to TBRI’s promising research results it may be developed as an ethical drug—for example, as an “adjuvant” for use in conjunction with vaccine administration. This question is being carefully evaluated by our scientific staff and our Scientific Advisory Committee. In addition, our corporate and patent attorneys, as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are working closely with us on this matter.
The pine cones come from selected U.S. pine tree species—in a manner similar to that of aspirin, which historically was derived from the bark of the willow tree.
There are a number of medical doctors who are actively investigating the benefits of the Pine Cone extract, in collaboration with TBRI’s research scientists.
7. How do you handle infectious agents at your facility?
TBRI scientists use low- to moderate-risk infectious agents in their research programs, either in vitro (in the test tube) or in vivo (in mice). All laboratory research with infectious agents is restricted to special rooms having controlled access and ventilation. Laboratory procedures involving infectious agents conform to applicable OSHA, EPA, NIH and Florida Department of Health (DOH) regulations. TBRI has a Safety Officer and an Institutional Safety Committee that ensures the safe use and disposal of all hazardous materials. Our laboratories have 24-hour security.
8. Have the appropriate government forms been filed for possessing “select agents” (hazardous biological agents particularly suitable for bioterrorism)? If so, where is this paperwork kept?
At this time, TBRI does not possess any “select agents.” Such information is kept up-to-date and is in the custody of the Safety Officer.
9. What is the chain of custody of TBRI’s virus samples?
TBRI has a written policy for receiving, handling and disposing of virus samples. This policy is enforced by the Safety Officer and periodically reviewed by the Institutional Safety Committee. This policy, in turn, is overseen by our Scientific Advisory Committee. The policy is readily available for inspection by the appropriate government agencies upon request.
10. Do you have an inventory list of all laboratory equipment on the premises?
Yes. The certified public accountants (CPAs) who conduct our annual audits require that we maintain a detailed itemized listing of all major scientific and administrative equipment.
11. How is security handled at the Institute?
There is a 24-hour security policy in effect. The Safety Officer oversees our procedures, and an Institutional Safety Committee monitors our safety and security programs.
12. Do you conduct animal testing?
TBRI conducts both in vitro (in test tubes) and in vivo (in mice) research. The Institute also participates in collaborative studies with other institutions using specialized study models to investigate the treatment of chronic diseases.
The majority of our research efforts involve in vitro (test tube) studies. However, we currently have several sets of mice that are used for some of our disease studies. The mice live in state-of-the-art housing that is closely controlled for access, temperature and humidity. This research work is supervised by TBRI’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), under the auspices of the Federal government, to assure humane care and handling of the animals. Ultimately, the goal of our work is to cure and prevent chronic and infectious diseases in humans. We are pleased that these programs have resulted in excellent scientific progress.
13. How do I get involved?
You may serve as a volunteer, join a committee, and/or become an active donor, depending on your available time, philanthropic wishes and experience.
We also provide public health educational presentations and welcome tours from civic, religious and corporate groups upon request. Please browse our website for more information or contact Tom Taggart, TBRI Director of Development at (727) 576-6675 ext. 131 for more information.