Six Sample ID Experts on the State of Biobanking

Tune in to the recent Mendelspod podcast series on biospecimen quality

Download the full series transcript


The recent Mendelspod podcast series “Garbage In, Garbage Out: A New Look at Biospecimen Quality” was cosponsored by Fluidigm and provides an in-depth look at the dire state of biospecimen quality and the need for regulation and standardization.

At the Scottsdale, Arizona–based National Biomarker Development Alliance, Chief Medical Officer Carolyn Compton has set her sights on improving biobanking sample quality. Recognizing the dismal record of sample collection, handling and storage and a continuing uptick in nonreproducible research, Compton is calling for reform, demanding better sampling standards to pave the way for better science.

For this series, Mendelspod interviewed six biobanking experts to better understand the current state of the industry and how it got that way, and to look ahead at the future of biobanking.

The Open Secret about the HER2 Assay

Guest: Jim Vaught, Biopreservation and Biobanking Journal
Editor-in-Chief Jim Vaught of the Biopreservation and Biobanking Journal provides an introductory overview of biosampling. Using the striking example of the HER2 assay, he demonstrates why improving biospecimen quality is vitally important.


Biosampling Basics

Guest: Scott Jewel, Van Andel Institute
Senior Scientific Investigator Scott Jewell is also Director of Program for Biospecimen Science at Van Andel Institute. He discusses issues around biosample procurement, processing and storage.


The Daunting Task of Managing Biospecimens at the World's Largest CRO

Guest: Diane Farhi, Quintiles Laboratories
Senior Medical Director Diane C. Farhi, MD, of Quintiles Laboratories delves into practical issues affecting sample quality, especially with the increase in RNA and DNA sequencing. She shares ways the world’s largest clinical research organization deals with transportation challenges such as shipping times, temperature variability and flight delays due to weather, personnel and equipment.


The Sad State of Biospecimen Science

Guest: David Rimm, Yale
Professor of Pathology David Rimm of the Yale University School of Medicine addresses the under-recognized problem of sample degradation, questioning the lack of standards for biospecimen collection and pathologist certification. He makes a case for developing a Tissue Quality Index, an assay for testing and rating sample viability for specimens from storage or unknown origins.

Sample Quality: “It's Pretty Bad”

Guest: Andy Brooks, RUCDR
Andy Brooks is COO at Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository (RUCDR®), the biorepository for four NIH centers and a confluence of biomedical research where academia, industry and regulation meet. His team has been partnering with companies like Fluidigm to develop a Tissue Quality Index panel for measuring analyte quality and predicting sample performance.

Historic Consensus Reached on Biospecimen Standards

Guest: Carolyn Compton, Arizona State University
Professor of Pathology Carolyn Compton is Chief Medical Officer of the National Biomarker Development Alliance (NBDA) and a leading advocate for raising standards for biospecimen collection, handling and storage. The two “convergence conferences” she organized brought together pathologists, physicians, patients, toolmakers and regulators to establish five basic standards to improve biospecimen handling. The College of American Pathologists has committed to enforcing these benchmarks for all the labs they accredit. Patients will benefit the most from these regulations since tests such as the HER2 breast cancer assay will be more accurate. This story will change the industry and is a powerful lesson in how nongovernmental leadership can effect positive change.

Listen to the six-episode podcast series.

SNP Trace™ vs. STR

Up to 35 percent of human cell lines are contaminated or misidentified. Though only 2 percent of those errors actually occur at biobanks, those are the facilities that will receive attribution. The big-picture view of SNP profiling is that it saves labs money over time by identifying mistakes early and preserving biobank credibility and researchers’ reputations. SNP Trace panel testing offers:

  • Automation: scalable walkaway workflow on a simple-to-learn platform
  • Speed: just 15 minutes of hands-on setup, and from sample to data in less than 3 hours
  • Power: high resolution for top data quality and reliability
  • Small samples: only tiny amounts of rare, degraded or FFPE material needed