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Biopreserv Biobank. 2011 Dec;9(4):327-33. doi: 10.1089/bio.2011.0020. Epub 2011 Oct 3.

A proposed schema for classifying human research biobanks.

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1 Tumour Tissue Repository, Deeley Research Centre , BC Cancer Agency, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada .


Human research biobanks have rapidly expanded in the past 20 years, in terms of both their complexity and utility. To date there exists no agreement upon classification schema for these biobanks. This is an important issue to address for several reasons: to ensure that the diversity of biobanks is appreciated, to assist researchers in understanding what type of biobank they need access to, and to help institutions/funding bodies appreciate the varying level of support required for different types of biobanks. To capture the degree of complexity, specialization, and diversity that exists among human research biobanks, we propose here a new classification schema achieved using a conceptual classification approach. This schema is based on 4 functional biobank "elements" (donor/participant, design, biospecimens, and brand), which we feel are most important to the major stakeholder groups (public/participants, members of the biobank community, health care professionals/researcher users, sponsors/funders, and oversight bodies), and multiple intrinsic features or "subelements" (eg, the element "biospecimens" could be further classified based on preservation method into fixed, frozen, fresh, live, and desiccated). We further propose that the subelements relating to design (scale, accrual, data format, and data content) and brand (user, leadership, and sponsor) should be specifically recognized by individual biobanks and included in their communications to the broad stakeholder audience.


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