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The term "biobanking" refers to the process of collecting, storing and distributing human biological materials, such as blood, plasma, saliva, purified DNA and other specimens. These materials are a vital part of a field called translational medicine, in which biological samples are studied to hopefully yield information that can be translated into treatments. Translational research depends on properly preserved samples, making freezer software and laboratory sample management software important to many biobanks. However, obtaining and storing high-quality samples for this freezer software to use is not as straightforward as many researchers think.

Previous studies have shown that donors often have moral, religious and cultural concerns about how their samples are used, a fact that may affect their decision to donate or give blanket consent. However, a research team at Michigan State University noticed that the surveyed groups that had provided this data were not representative of the U.S. population. To re-examine this willingness, the team surveyed the GfK KnowledgePanel, a probability-based online panel of adults designed to represent the American population. Participants read an introductory description of a fictional biobank, then rated their willingness to donate on a six-point scale, which ranged from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree". They first rated their willingness on blanket consent, then answered a variety of "even if" style questions, which could present moral concerns. The researchers then gave the respondents short descriptions of the benefits and consequences of five methods of gaining consent, asking them to indicate which were acceptable, the best, and the worst.

In a study published in the January 27 issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the research team found that the majority of almost 1,600 individuals were willing to donate samples and medical information to a biobank. Moreover, most were willing to use blanket consent.

The team's final analysis included 1,559 of an original 2,654 participants. The respondents were typically older, Caucasian, had high levels of education and high household incomes. As many as 68% were willing to donate with blanket consent. However, moral concerns were associated with a significant reduction in willingness to donate in all but one scenario.

In light of their findings, the research team is arguing for increased use of blanket consent to appeal to potential donors and limit reduced donations. However, the overall willingness of Americans to donate samples came as no surprise to many: at the turn of the century, the number of tissue samples in U.S. biobanks alone was estimated at more than 300 million, and is increasing by 20 million a year. With these statistics, it's no wonder that so many companies are looking for better freezer software to manage their samples!

In recent years, translational medicine has drawn considerable attention, with laboratories around the world using biobanking technology to study everything from Alzheimer's disease to cancer. This research often requires extensive sample management systems to safely store and track the data being collected, but the facilities that engage in these studies often create jobs and yield information that can be used to create more effective medical treatments. For these reasons, the city of Kannapolis, North Carolina is currently planning to build a new biobanking center, a decision inspired by a new study researching disease patterns in the area.

Biobanks are defined as the repositories that collect, store and distribute human biological materials, including blood, plasma, saliva, purified DNA and other specimens. In many cases, these biorepositories will also keep a record of personal and health-related information connected to these samples, such as genetic data, health records, and family history, for use in various studies and research projects. Through the use of sample management systems and biobanking software, the facilities store huge amounts of data, which is managed, analyzed and later combined to support scientific needs. For the city of Kannapolis, which is the site of a $35 million project called the MURDOCK study, having such a research center in their area makes economic and scientific sense. Standing for the “Measurement to Understand the Reclassification of Disease of Cabarrus/Kannapolis," the study plans to use biological data and samples to study the genomic links within and across conditions like osteoarthritis, obesity, and heart disease.

Currently, the samples being collected from the 11,000 area residents enrolled in the study are being housed in a biobanking facility in Kannapolis. However, the city sees this as just the beginning: with the help of the North Carolina Research Campus, an organization dedicated to using scientific innovation to help a community's economic prosperity, the city plans to draw businesses and construct new biobanking facilities over the next several years. This could have a significant impact on Kannapolis, which suffered after a major manufacturer left town. Will the MURDOCK study help them turn things around? Will Kannapolis be the site of the next great discovery in genetic research? Only time will tell.


Biobanking and freezer software is used for a number of worthwhile causes, including the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Due to a recent change, the Los Alamos National Laboratory may be able to put these applications to good use: the lab recently updated their bioinformatics software, allowing healthcare professionals, researchers, and other users to quickly identify diseases and choose the proper therapies for conditions like cancer. This would allow them to analyze millions of samples that have been gathered and stored using biobanking software, hopefully yielding some helpful information for treatments and more.

Founded during World War II, the Los Alamos National Laboratory is one of the largest science and technology institutions in the world. While it was originally created to design nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project, the facility now conducts multidisciplinary research in a number of different fields, including nanotechnology, medicine, and renewable energy. As part of the lab's medical research, the facility decided to upgrade to the latest version of its software, Sequedex.

While laboratory software is typically associated with lab sample tracking or freezer inventory, Sequedex is used to recognize patterns in short DNA sequences. Once recognized, the system associates them with specific functions and phylogeny, or evolutionary relationships. Los Alamos scientists compare the program to a web browser search, but instead of accessing online documents, the bioinformatics software uses its search terms to connect patterns to previously-identified genomes and DNA sequences.

Sequedex can reportedly classify fragments 250,000 times faster than other methods, making it a potentially useful tool in the field of translational research. Defined as a way to improve individual and communal health by "translating" findings into diagnostic tools, medicines, procedures, policies and education, translational medicine could use Sequedex's software to analyze millions of samples currently being preserved in biobanks around the world. And with the number of tissue samples alone increasing by 20 million a year, not to mention the genetic, physical, lifestyle, and family data that typically accompanies these samples, the Los Alamos National Laboratory has plenty of information to use. Will this software update lead to the next big medical discovery, or even new therapies for common conditions? Only time will tell.

software A significant part of scientific research is the collection of samples, collecting data, and drawing meaningful conclusions from that data. This might seem pretty straightforward, but anyone who has worked in a lab and overseen a high volume of samples knows that it isn't. One of the largest areas of research involves human samples, which require careful storing and inventory. At the turn of the century, there were more than 300 million tissue samples in biobanks in the United States alone, and that number grows by 20 million per year. Here's a short guide to biobanking, how it can be managed, and why management is so essential.

What is biobanking?

A biobank is basically just a repository for these samples to be collected in, stored in, and distributed from. These samples are biological materials like blood, plasma, purified DNA, saliva, and other specimens. Similarly, biobanks also hold such information and data as health records, genetic information, and lifestyle and family history. These are all stored for research in the medical and health fields.

Why is careful management of these samples and data so important?

Since there are so many samples and so much data, careful storage, freezer inventory, and careful management are essential. These samples are used for other research, so it's important that they stay organized, clearly labeled, well documented, and easily retrievable. These things are essential because research that uses these samples is often beneficial for the general public in the development of medications, procedures, diagnostic tools, education, and policies.

What is the best way to manage these samples and data?

Managing all of these samples and the associated data is too big a job for people to do, especially since accuracy is so important. This is why the development and use of biobanking software is essential. There are a number of web enabled types of software which feature management tools like e-notebooks, instant messaging, sample tracking software, lab management systems, reference management, and scientific and general online collaboration platforms. Do you have any other questions about biobanking, management, or biobanking software? Feel free to ask us in the comments section. Read More

Freezerworks Users Education Conference
Caesars Palace Resort
Las Vegas, Nevada
June 16 - 18th, 2015

Join us for the 6th Annual Freezerworks Education Conference, previously known as the Users Group Meeting. 
Meeting Sessions will Include: 
  • NEW Freezerworks 2015 – See all the new features of this exciting upgrade to the Freezerworks product line.  
  • Freezerworks Tips and Tricks - This is an entertaining yet informative session highlighting the hidden features and tricks that can make your site’s use of Freezerworks faster and easier.
  • Freezerworks Training Sessions - These include an opportunity to sit with a Freezerworks specialist one-on-one to discuss your site’s needs and find solutions.
  • Roundtable Discussions - Meet with other users and Freezerworks staff to discuss specific issues, and brainstorm solutions.
  • Customer Presentations - See how other sites are utilizing Freezerworks to great advantage.
  • Are you a Freezerworks Basic user? -  With Freezerworks 2015, your program includes many great new features. Learn how your site can take advantage of them.
Reserve your spot by registering now!
*Customer Care Program loyalty discounts available for each year you have had CCP. Contact our Sales Department for more information. 

During 2012, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) established the Johns Hopkins Biological Repository (JHBR) to support large population based studies addressing public health issues such as HIV/AIDS, Viral hepatitis, Autism, COPD, vaccine trials and others.  

Johns Hopkins Biological Repository: An Academic Model

During 2012, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) established the Johns Hopkins Biological Repository (JHBR) to support large population based studies addressing public health issues such as HIV/AIDS, Viral hepatitis, Autism, COPD, vaccine trials and others. 

For several years prior, the Department of Epidemiology devised a plan that would house the existing repository specimens in an off-site facility and free up space in the main building where the repository has resided and grown rapidly since 1984.  The goals were to provide a safe and trusted resource for investigators to store valuable specimens from small and large research studies, to have sufficient capacity for growth over the next ten years, to have a fiscally sound plan and to support the School's "Go Green" initiative. 

The new facility located 3 miles from the JHSPH consists of 6,300 square feet of space housing up to 80 high efficiency liquid nitrogen freezers. This core facility will provide much needed scientific services for a large number of public health related studies through a centralized service center and core laboratories.