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Biopreserv Biobank. 2014 Aug;12(4):234-9. doi: 10.1089/bio.2014.0008.

A practical tool for modeling biospecimen user fees.

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1 University of British Columbia Office of Biobank Education and Research , Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada .


The question of how best to attribute the unit costs of the annotated biospecimen product that is provided to a research user is a common issue for many biobanks. Some of the factors influencing user fees are capital and operating costs, internal and external demand and market competition, and moral standards that dictate that fees must have an ethical basis. It is therefore important to establish a transparent and accurate costing tool that can be utilized by biobanks and aid them in establishing biospecimen user fees. To address this issue, we built a biospecimen user fee calculator tool, accessible online at . The tool was built to allow input of: i) annual operating and capital costs; ii) costs categorized by the major core biobanking operations; iii) specimen products requested by a biobank user; and iv) services provided by the biobank beyond core operations (e.g., histology, tissue micro-array); as well as v) several user defined variables to allow the calculator to be adapted to different biobank operational designs. To establish default values for variables within the calculator, we first surveyed the members of the Canadian Tumour Repository Network (CTRNet) management committee. We then enrolled four different participants from CTRNet biobanks to test the hypothesis that the calculator tool could change approaches to user fees. Participants were first asked to estimate user fee pricing for three hypothetical user scenarios based on their biobanking experience (estimated pricing) and then to calculate fees for the same scenarios using the calculator tool (calculated pricing). Results demonstrated significant variation in estimated pricing that was reduced by calculated pricing, and that higher user fees are consistently derived when using the calculator. We conclude that adoption of this online calculator for user fee determination is an important first step towards harmonization and realistic user fees.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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