Arizona Biospecimen Consortium to offer tool to help scientist locate samples for research

Three Arizona-based hospitals have come together to create the Arizona Biospecimen Consortium (ABC), a collaboration to centralize and coordinate the individual efforts of the human biospecimen biobanks. The consortium – funded by the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission (ABRC), a bureau of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) – includes St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Maricopa Integrated Health System.

The ABC’s goal is to raise visibility and use of the collected samples in the basic and translational research community, and its member hospitals’ biorepositories contain tens of thousands of cell, tissue, and blood samples, many of which are from specialized ethnic populations, age populations, or rare diseases that will be of particular value to researchers who would not typically have access to these types of samples.

The Arizona Biospecimen Locator (ABL) is a pilot effort to develop a centralized, web-based biospecimen locator for the biospecimens collected and stored by ABC members. Researchers may use the site to browse, search and request biospecimens to use in qualified studies.

The ADHS and ABRC, through its active involvement in the Arizona Bioscience Roadmap and Arizona Translational Research Pathway efforts, identified the importance of access to high quality biospecimens to further clinical and translational research in the age of genomic-based medicine.

Through its outreach to hospitals and the research community, ABRC learned that a comprehensive and coordinated effort was needed to raise the capacity of existing and emerging biospecimen banks across the state to effectively generate sufficient biospecimens for clinical research.

The tracking database system and software was developed with input from a consortium of hospitals and medical centers from the Phoenix area to support the ability to provide information about the availability of specimens. The intent of the system is to allow researchers to browse the specimen universe in order to determine which specimen(s) may be suitable for their needs and to facilitate the ordering of these biospecimens.

Underpinning the ABL is the consortium’s efforts in creating harmonized approaches that enable statewide biospecimen collaboration across tissue banks. These harmonized approaches touch many of the key aspects of managing biospecimens for the research community and ensuring quality across tissue banks, including a common biospecimen annotated dataset, a standardized material transfer agreement, and a sharing of standards on collection and storage protocols, among others.