Form, for example), and compliance should be recorded on a specimen’s record. Even if those handling procedures are not optimal for a particular type of analysis, having specimens that are subject to well-defined, uniform handling rules will allow investigators to factor the specimens’ condition in their studies. The best practices should be revisited regularly and updated as necessary.
Technologies that present solutions to biobanking challenges of quality control, quality management, specimen tracking, retrieval or aliquoting, inventory control, or other issues could also be of great benefit to the repository (Frey, 2010). Devices that allow high-throughput generation of molecular quality-control data, for example, may be of use in selecting cases when certain quality thresholds are required (Patel et al., 2006). The extent to which such technologies should be adopted, however, depends on the extent to which the JPC envisions streamlining repository management, making the repository available to external researchers, and conducting research in its own right.
As the JPC takes steps to enhance its laboratory information management system by improving basic search and analytic functionality, its system should, at a minimum, include fields that detail how specimens were collected and handled before accessioning in the repository, quality-control data, and what record there is of consent to future research use.
If the JPC contemplates moving beyond basic management of the repository to support clinical, educational, and research use toward more active involvement in research or enhancement of its collection by adding new data generated by researchers, the committee suggests that it consider investing in high-performance computing technologies to assist in processing the volumes of data that will be produced. This class of technologies is not necessary to maintain the repository, but it may enable greater use by merging biologic and computational proficiencies.
The committee notes that implementation of such systems requires outlays for equipment and training that may not be feasible in the current funding environment. The JPC will need to consider whether its current budget allows such investments and, if so, which have highest priority.
Digitization of slides, which has already been performed on some of the collection, preserves visual information in a form that may be more easily deidentified and disseminated for research and educational purposes. However, it is a time-consuming process: digitizing a slide at 400× magnification with three Z-axis planes, for example, takes a minimum of 5 minutes per slide with current (2012) technology. Unless the slide illustrates a rare condition or is to be used as part of a teaching or reference collection, it is questionable whether that is worth the effort. Moreover, digitizing slides that lack associated clinical data is likely to be of little value in research. Association of specimens with clinical data is highly desirable