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(The University of Chicago - Alvin Wei-Cheng Wong)



- Overview

A biobank is a biorepository that accepts, processes, stores and distributes biospecimens and associated data for use in research and clinical care. From animals including humans and many other living organisms, It manages specimens. Examples can be like vertebrates, invertebrates, arthropods and other life-forms etc can be studied by preserving and storing samples. Samples of material, such as urine, blood, tissue, cells, DNA, RNA, and protein from humans, animals, or plants. Biospecimens are stored in a biorepository and are used for laboratory research.

The field of biobanking has changed tremendously over the past thirty years. It started with small, predominantly university-based repositories that were developed for the research needs of specific projects. There gradually evolved institutional and government supported repositories, commercial (for profit) biorepositories, population based biobanks and most recently, virtual biobanks. The data associated with stored biospecimens have increased in complexity from basics, such as date of collection and the diagnosis, to extensive information sets encompassing many aspects of participant or patient phenotype, now rapidly extending into genetic, proteomic, and other “omics” information.


- Biorepository and Biospecimen Science

The field of biorepository and biospecimen science has evolved in response to the changing needs of investigators and projects using specimen banking, as well as to external regulatory and related pressures. This changing environment can be attributed in part to emerging fields such as proteomics, genomics and personalized medicine as well as to the increasing precision of the associated fields of science. This process has increased the demand for high quality specimens with accurate, reliable, standardized clinical and laboratory data. Thus, optimum collection, processing, storage, tracking and shipment of biospecimens are key to the outcome of a multitude of studies. 


- Virtual Biobanks

Biobanks have amassed impressive quantities of human tissue, biofluids and cells that scientists can study to discover treatments and cures. 

Population-wide biobanks have been developed in several countries, including Iceland, UK, Sweden, Denmark, Lativa, Estonia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and USA. These large-scale repositories have been created in order to collect, analyze and store phenotypic and genetic information on representative samples of their source populations. 

Virtual biobanks are developed to assist investigators locate biospecimens for testing and data mining from multiple biobanks in dispersed locations. Such virtual biobanks are accessed using specialized software or web portals designed to connect biobanks and investigators throughout the world. 


- Biobank Taxonomy

There are several types of biobanks. Including those that are disease-centric, population-based, genetic or DNA/RNA, project-driven, tissue versus multiple specimen type, commercial, and virtual biobanks. 

Examples of biobanks:  


[More to come ...]




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