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Last Updated: 11/11/14

Best Practices

ALERT: After an extensive process and the inclusion of feedback from the public comment period, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is pleased to release the 2011 Best Practices for Biospecimen resources Learn more.

One of the most widely recognized and significant roadblocks to progress is cancer research is the lack of standardized, high-quality biospecimens. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) developed the NCI Best Practices for Biospecimen Resources (NCI Best Practices) based on extensive research and expert input into the state of NCI-funded biospecimen resources and the quality of biospecimens used in cancer research. The NCI Best Practices outline the operational, technical, ethical, legal and policy best practices for NCI-supported biospecimen resources.

Scope, Applicability, Implementation

The NCI Best Practices incorporate key principles that:

  • define state-of-the-science biospecimen resource practices
  • promote biospecimen and data quality
  • support adherence to ethical and legal requirements

The NCI Best Practices define principles to guide procedures developed by biospecimen resources. They are intended to be adapted based on the mission and scientific needs of biospecimen resources. While adoption of the NCI Best Practices is voluntary, the NCI believes that these principles optimize biospecimens for cancer research. Learn more

Technical and Operational Best Practices

Although the specific mission of a biospecimen resource will define its collection and processing procedures, common principles apply to all biospecimen types. The best practices within this section are based on current, published information and will be revised periodically as new information is generated from ongoing research projects. Learn more

Ethical, Legal, and Policy Best Practices

In addition to technical considerations relating to the physical quality of a biospecimen, multiple ethical, legal, and policy issues relate to biospecimen collection activities. Key ethical issues include:

  • respecting the autonomy of research participants
  • protecting research participants from breaches of privacy and confidentiality
  • developing appropriate policies for biospecimen use
  • ensuring that biospecimens are used in scientifically sound research.

The ethical, legal, and policy best practices in this section identify key regulations relevant to biospecimen resources and provide recommendations for their consideration. Learn more