evaluated, 64 percent had at least one aberration that would limit research utility; air bubbles in the paraffin were the most prevalent aberrations. By and large, Asterand found “sufficient tissue for a variety of experimental procedures” (p. 110).
Asterand estimated the commercial value of the collections by extrapolating survey results regarding the accessibility of relevant data and viability of tissues to the entire repository and applying its knowledge of the market for specimens. Its most conservative estimate—based on the current state of the collection, accessibility of the materials to requesting parties without restriction, and the provision of complete tissue blocks (that is, without preservation of any portion for future use)—was about $1.4 billion.6
The report concluded that “the greatest strengths of the Central Repository for research and educational purposes lie in the breadth and depth of its materials and in the potential for developing cohorts for rare and unusual diseases” but that both it and the BRAC Collection “are in need of better data organization and enrichment of patient clinical information (particularly follow-up) [and that] each would benefit from selection and development of disease-based cohorts of cases with adequate amounts of representative stored tissues” (pp. 117–118).
Asterand offered several recommendations for maximizing the value of the repositories, indicating that these were predicated on “the understanding that the value of the collections can only be realized through permitting widespread access” (p. 133). They included assessing “the retrievability and quality of the RNA of tissues in both the Central and BRAC repositories to further refine the precise value and potential utility of the repositories for research” and discarding samples that have no usable tissue or have deteriorated to the point where they can no longer be used.
2008 Defense Health Board Review
In June 2008, the DoD asked the Defense Health Board (DHB)—an independent federal advisory committee tasked with providing the military with advice and recommendations on health-related issues—to review its strategic plan for the establishment of the JPC and offer its opinion on the plan’s appropriateness and feasibility (Parisi, 2008). The board delivered its conclusions in December of that year (DHB, 2008).
The DHB offered a series of observations and recommendations regarding the JPC’s scope of service, governance, and organizational structure. It expressed the strong belief that “the Tissue Repository is a national treasure
6This estimate should be viewed skeptically because the anecdotal experience of other biorepositories indicates that their presumed value as research materials sources was not borne out in practice (Silberman, 2010).