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Lynn Buchwalder, MS, Assistant Director, CRSL

The Clinical Research Support Lab (CRSL) at Yale Cancer Center is an in-service provider that assists in the clinical trials process by ensuring that biospecimen samples from patients are processed, stabilized, and submitted to the appropriate final analyzing labs. Lynn Buchwalder, MS, Assistant Director of the CRSL, joined almost three years ago as the volume of patient samples and number of clinical trials steadily increased. Currently the lab is responsible for thousands of samples from over 700 patients across more than 160 clinical trials that span a variety of oncology disease areas.

The majority of trials they support are industry sponsored through pharmaceutical companies, but some are investigator initiated or cooperative group trials. As samples are collected from patients, they need immediate stabilization and processing. This can entail isolating various components of the blood and cells, working with tissue biopsies, or banking the specimens for future use. Many of the samples are being collected to discover potential genetic and protein biomarkers that might play a role in cancer.

Lynn is responsible for overseeing all activities of the lab and making sure that there is constant communication between the lab and the other teams involved in the trial so that samples are correctly collected and processed according to each specific protocol. She reviews every lab manual and protocol and their amendments thoroughly to ensure accuracy. Prior to the activation of every trial, Lynn meets with each Principal Investigator and his/her team making sure the lab portion is completely sorted out.

"I work with an outstanding team and our program keeps growing. There are so many different areas involved in the clinical trials process needed in order for it to be successful, and I enjoy working with these different people who each contribute their own crucial part," said Lynn. "After running basic research labs for over 20 years, it is fascinating to be on the clinical side and see the good that all this research can achieve and the hope in new treatments that these trials bring to many people."

Lynn describes her own team as dedicated hard workers and emphasizes the fact that it is 100% a team effort. Rocco Carbone, MS, started the lab from the ground up and continues to contribute to its success. The lab expanded quickly and there are currently 7 full-time lab technicians, with plans to hire more. Lynn not only oversees the daily activities of the lab, but also many of the long-term goals and logistics as YCC grows.

Dr. Howard Hochster, Associate Director for Clinical Sciences at Yale Cancer Center, supervises Lynn and directs the CRSL. He added, "Lynn Buchwalder is a true gem. I am thankful every day that she came back to Yale when we needed a lab director. Lynn is incredibly hard-working and dedicated. She is also so exacting in the laboratory procedures and sample handling that she inevitably finds errors in the protocols that were overlooked by teams of protocol writers at the drug companies. She has a heart of gold and her wonderful, dedicated CRSL staff are completely devoted to her. She is an amazing resource for our clinical trials efforts at YCC."