The CCTS Biobank is automating biobank operations through the development of a custom online software application referred to as SLED (Sample Location and Enhancement Distribution). This is an internally developed, automated system which provides for sample request management (request, approval, distribution, tracking, and reporting), while allowing the data and samples to remain with and under the control of the primary investigator. The project is a collaborative effort between the CCTS Biobank and the informatics team at the University Of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics. The initial design was constructed using best practices offered by NIH, NCI, and other biobank industry leaders to support and to improve synergy and interaction among various research efforts.
The biobank employs a federated rather than a centralized model which encourages participation by sample owners who are concerned about guaranteeing their ownership of samples and sample information about patients, samples and related clinical data. In a federated model, individual sites agree on shared policies and procedures for data and sample sharing and oversight. Samples remain with and are governed by the contributing principal investigator at each site. The contributing investigator has final authority whether or not to collaborate or to release samples to qualified researchers.
The goal of SLED is to help researchers overcome two of the biggest obstacles preventing their research from beginning: 1) locating samples and related data, and 2) requesting of samples and related data. Prior to SLED’s inception the existing system was limited to providing links to samples and data and relying on phone calls to sample owners to facilitate sharing.
How it Works
Through SLED, researchers will be able to search for samples using a variety of criteria including availability, clinical data, consent criteria, patient demographics, patient diagnoses, study data, and sample type at local and national biobank sites.
To simplify and standardize requesting samples, SLED will provide researchers and designated biobank personnel:
- An online sample request form accepted by all participants
- Electronic submission of the request form
- Online tracking of request status
- Notification of sample shipment and receipt
- Online submission of research results and sample data (genotype and biomarkers)
Current functionality will be expanded to support reporting requirements as determined by NIH and additional regulatory bodies. The initial release of SLED allows researchers to locate samples and sample data at local and national biobank sites. Future versions will be developed utilizing i2b2 and related technologies. Additionally, the biobank will not concentrate on creating new search tools, but will implement solutions from the i2b2 community as they become available.