The biorepositories of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Maricopa Integrated Health System in Arizona state USA collaborate to form the Arizona Biospecimen Consortium (ABC). It is funded by the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission (ABRC), a bureau of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). The goal of the consortium is to boost the use of the biobanks by basic and translational researchers by coordinating and centralizing the individual human biorepositories in the Phoenix area and by increasing the visibility of the available samples. The biobanks contain well over ten thousand cell, tissue, and blood samples, many of which are from particular ethnic groups such as Hispanic or Native American. There are also paediatric samples and samples from rare diseases which are anticipated to be particularly valuable to the research community.
As part of the centralization effort the Arizona Biospecimen Locator (ABL) has been created as a pilot web-based biospecimen locator for the ABC. It represents biospecimens collected and stored by ABC members and are available for acquisition and research use. The site allows researchers to search, browse and request specimens for use in approved studies. The centralized, web-based biological specimen tracking database system and the associated software was developed with input from the ABC hospitals.
Underpinning the ABL is the Consortium’s efforts to create a harmonized approach that allows statewide collaboration across tissue banks. The harmonization and centralization includes a common annotated biospecimen dataset, a standardized and shared material transfer agreement, standards sharing regarding collection, storage, protocols and more. This harmonization improves the management and quality of the biospecimens for the research community.
This effort was spearheaded by the ABRC when it learned that a comprehensive and coordinated effort was needed to raise the capacity of existing and emerging biospecimen banks across the state to generate sufficient biospecimens for clinical research in an efficient manner and to engage with the research community.