A Biobank is a type of biorepository that stores biological samples, and has become an important resource in medical research, supporting many types of contemporary research.  They can also be known as tissue banks or bioresources. 

Samples for clinical studies and diagnostic purposes have been collected throughout the history of medicine.  Methods for collecting samples and consent practices have varied greatly, depending on the legislation and policies of each period.  The difference between traditional sample collections and the new biobank concept is that samples collected in a biobank can be used for a variety of future research needs, not just for a defined specific research purpose.

Before the existence of biobanks, scientists collected all the biospecimens required for their experiments. However, they came to realize that while genetics may contribute to many diseases, very few diseases can be attributed to a single defective gene. This means that most diseases are due to multiple genetic factors. This led them to start collecting more genetic information whenever they could. At the same time, the advancement of technology also enabled the wide sharing of information. This led to the conclusion where access to data collected for any genetics work could be helpful in other genetic research. Scientists then started to store genetic data in single places to allow community sharing. As a result, many single nucleotide polymorphisms were discovered. While the new practice allowed the collection and sharing of genotype data, there was no system in place that gathers the related phenotype data. Genotype data can be obtained from biospecimens while phenotype data is obtained from interviewing, examination, and assessment of the donor. In cases where phenotype data were available, there were ethical issues about the extent of sharing this information. The biobank was then developed to store both genotypic and phenotypic data, allowing access to researchers who may need it. In the United States, researchers store about 270 million specimens in 2008 with an average new sample collection rate of 20 million specimens annually. However, there are some issues regarding the ethical, social, and legal issues of biobanks which are constantly debated and improved.
(Reference:  Geneticist/Feb2019)

The comprehensive use of existing sample collections in medical research has many benefits. Citizens do not have to be invited on multiple occasions to participate in surveys and donate new samples. Also, samples that have been collected at great expense can be used more efficiently for research purposes, aiding in the development of better treatments and medications. The development work can be done in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, so that the research results can be translated into better treatments and drugs.

If your organization needs a biobank,  you must consider, where and how will you store the biospecimens.  Is it essential for you to Build your own biorepository or can you outsource your biobanking needs?
The answers to those questions are usually quite complex, and they vary from organization to organization.  Each research project has its own unique goals, and collections of biological materials can differ tremendously in size, scope, handling constraints and storage requirements.



1. Control – When you build your own biobank, your organization has complete control over all the parameters of collection, handling, and storage of the bio samples.

2. Access – An on-site biobank makes access to your bio samples easier and quicker.
3. Build to Suit – Your biobank can be built to your specific research parameters.
4. Adaptability – When you run your own biobank, you can adjust collection, handling, and storage conditions.

1. Time – Establishing a biobank takes time and extreme attention to detail.  Renovation of warehouse space can take 6-18 months for design/approval, permits, construction, etc..
2. Expense – You will need to budget for support systems and personnel.  Basic construction typically runs about $75-$125 per sq. ft...  You will also have to add on electrical switchgear, backup generators, temperature monitoring systems and additional costs for redundant storage unites and emergency services.
3. Personnel – Are your current team members qualified to guide contractors?  How many additional personnel will be required to maintain the biobank once it is built?



1. Expediency. Finding a biobank to outsource your biobanking needs will not be nearly as time-consuming as building –and then running –your own biorepository. How will the delays associated with building your own biobank impact your research?
2. Costs. Hearing your need to store “half a million samples” might give you pause, but a few quick calculations can help you regain perspective. For example, a single upright freezer with the standard 25 cubic ft. of storage space can hold 48,000 0.5ml vials. Your sample storage needs may be smaller than you think, and it may not be cost-effective to build.
3. Minimal additional personnel. You will need staff to manage the outsourcing contract, but in general terms, outsourcing will require fewer personnel than building your own biobank.
4. Short-term storage. If your bio samples only need to be stored for a few months, it may not be worthwhile to build your own facility.
5. Risk mitigation. Outsourcing reduces risk headaches. Biorepository facilities require back-up generators, a fuel supply, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to protect electronics from power surges, temperature monitoring systems, redundant HVAC capacity (mechanical freezers generate a lot of excess heat), a disaster response plan and on-call staff to respond to alarms after hours. 

1.Control - Outsourcing your biobanking needs requires relinquishing some control over how bio samples are collected, handled, and stored. Does your outsourcing partner meet your requirements for quality management, privacy, compliance, risk mitigation, etc.?
2. Access - When you outsource your biobanking needs, the logistics of accessing your samples may be complicated and somewhat time-consuming.
3. Not built-to-suit - You will have to adapt your research to the biobank’s existing capabilities –or devote time and effort to negotiate changes.

As a leader in scientific equipment repair and medical equipment calibration, Scientific Instrument Center works with many corporations, universities, and hospitals providing the highest level of laboratory services.  To learn more about Scientific Instrument Center (SIC) and how we can help you keep your equipment performing to industry codes and regulations  visit us.   Here you can read more about our services or call 800-686-8965 for quick “Same day or Next Morning” on site scientific equipment maintenance services. 

Our skilled staff members understand the nuances of instrument calibration and the manufacturers train our technicians, so any inspections we make mean your equipment is to quality standards.   For more than 30 years, SIC has served businesses that use a wide variety of diagnostic and scientific equipment.  We are specialists.

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Biobank.  Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/Biobank
Biobank Introduction. UK Clinical Research Collaboration: Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre. Accessed 2/21/2019.
ThermoFisher.  The Pros and Cons of building your own biobank vs. outsourcing. https://www.thermofisher.com/blog/biobanking/the-pros-and-cons-of-building-your-own-biobank-vs-outsourcing/