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Last Updated: 09/30/14

Financial Sustainability Survey

Establishing and maintaining sustained long term funding seems to challenge every biobank faces in its lifecycle. Overcoming this challenge is essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of biobanking resources and for implementation of good laboratory practice and quality management programs that optimize specimen and data quality.

In those more economically challenging times, biobanks may increasingly rely on cost efficiency to sustain operations. While these measures may enable a bank to endure funding fluctuations, they may also limit the ability of a biobank to keep pace with advancements in biomedical technology, have a detrimental effect on specimen and data quality, and inhibit the sharing of specimens and data.

The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research Branch (BBRB) is involved in on-going studies of the economics of biobanking, which include cost-recovery modeling and the qualification and quantification of the economic impact of standardization of practice and centralization of resources. When viewed on a national and international level, finding good models and approaches to securing long term funding will improve the overall reliability, quality, availability of specimens and data that are essential to continued progress in the study and treatment of disease. Reliable access to high quality specimens and data in turn promotes sharing of materials and data among researchers studying the same or similar diseases.

The intent of the Financial Sustainability survey and study is to answer the following research question:

What is the financial burden (to the host institution) of the startup, maintenance and long-term sustainability of a human biospecimen resource used for biomedical research, given the host institution’s geographic and socioeconomic environment and organizational structure?

Specifically, the survey will seek to collect data on the full range of costs (direct and indirect) that are incurred along the biospecimen collection, processing, storage, and distribution continuum.  Areas that the survey will address include:

  • Demographic and background information about the your biobank including the volume of samples in inventory, number of requests for samples, types of requesters that you serve.
  • Direct and indirect costs associated with running your biobanks including labor, packaging, shipping, storage, facility costs, utilities, etc.
  • Technical/operational challenges that impact your biobank’s financial well-being
  • Techniques that have been successfully used to overcome financial challenges

In addition, we will ask about the types of economic information or tools that would be most useful to you in increasing your chances of obtaining funding and institutional buy-in.

The data collected in this survey will be used to develop published guidance that will be publicly available to the research community and the larger medical community.