A Biobank Cost Model: Shanghai Birth Cohort Study

Pixabay License | Source: Steve Buissinne , no changes made.

The infrastructure required for biobanking is costly and often depends on government funds to some extent. Resources for establishing cost are available, such as the biospecimen user fee calculator tool developed by the Canadian Tissue Repository Network (CTRNet). The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research Branch has also developed the Biobank Economic Modeling Tool (BEMT). Additional resources could also be useful references.

With this in mind the Shanghai Birth Cohort Study (SBC), a prospective birth cohort that enrolled 4000 pregnant women, fathers to-be, and newborns from nine participating hospitals throughout Shanghai over 2013–2015, has published their cost analysis model for the establishment of the biobank. The study was led by Chonghuai Yan of the Xinhua Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine and published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

The SBC biobank was launched in 2012, designed to study the effects of environmental factors (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, bisphenol A, triclosan, pesticide and more) on pregnancy outcomes and later health of both parents and child. The mothers in the cohort had blood and urine collected, whereas the father had a mouth swab taken. At birth umbilical cord blood, placental, umbilical cord, and spot blood (3–7 days after birth) were collected. At 42 days after birth the mother’s hair was collected. Blood and urine samples were collected from the children during 2-year follow-up.

A pilot study was conducted in which building, power, equipment, staff, training, maintenance, telecommunications, bio-waste removal, consumables, storage, cold-chain and shipping requirements were determined and costed. The specifics are detailed in the paper.

Covered by grants, the costs of storage hardware, the temperature monitoring system, the information management system, consumables for collection, processing, and storage were determined to be 3,622,289 RMB, which is approximately 520,000 USD. Additional costs such as personnel, building infrastructure and analysis equipment were borne by the hospital and other funding mechanisms.

The considerations of the study such as equipment, storage, and consumables are universal, however the financial specifics are likely to be determined by local factors.

“Cost analysis tools have become instrumental in ensuring budget optimization. This study has built a cost model for the birth cohort biobank in China. At the same time, by comparing the similarities and differences between China’s cost model and that of other countries, this paper provides valuable information for biobankers looking forward to identify new perspectives on potential collaborators and mutual learning opportunities,” concluded the authors.


  1. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2020.00024/full
  2. https://www.maelstrom-research.org/mica/individual-study/sbc#/
  3. https://biobanking.org/webs/biobankcosting
  4. https://biospecimens.cancer.gov/resources/bemt.asp