William Schleif, Biorepository Manager, The Johns Hopkins All Children’s Pediatric Biorepository
The Johns Hopkins All Children’s Pediatric Biorepository recently celebrated the public unveiling of its expansion into a new 4,000 square foot facility, located in the heart of the recently constructed Research and Education Building (REB). The new building, 7-stories tall with 225,000 total square feet and a direct connection to the hospital, was designed from the ground up to foster collaboration and produce meaningful, reproducible research to improve the health of children in the precision medicine era. Supporting a number of basic scientists and core research facilities for genomics and tissue-based diagnostics, the building’s concept is part of a tangible effort to closely integrate researchers investigating prioritized aims for four institutes; Brain Protection Science, Heart, Maternal/Fetal Medicine, and Cancer. This building also shares an important role in fostering education, from a state-of-the art simulation center to teach or refresh hands-on skills to didactic areas for residents and graduate students.
The new Biorepository space sits in the center of the building, above storm surge areas with windows built to withstand large missile impact. It features a centralized storage room offering automated storage capabilities for up to 3 million samples at inception, as well as redundant back-up liquid nitrogen and central energy plant connections, unidirectional molecular diagnostic design for high-complexity processing, positive-pressure cell culture room, and a liquid nitrogen filling facility. Green initiatives using new technologies that reduce routine and emergency power consumption are also in place. The Biorepository was involved in the new building design process from the beginning, providing a rare opportunity to incorporate not only the latest technologies in automated storage, but also the critical infrastructure necessary to implement ISBER Best Practices. Combined with a College of American Pathologists (CAP) Biorepository accreditation, the Biorepository serves as a centralized resource to advise study teams on all aspects of sample management pre- and post- award, provide clinical trial sample support, implementation of studies’ biobanking aims, and ensuring governance and stewardship of banked samples are aligned with participant consent and IRB approvals in a transparent manner.
A new biospecimen science initiative is also part of the expansion, with an initial focus on the effects of pre-analytical variation on the pre-clinical study of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of disease. The new space is scheduled to go live in January 2019. It will house biological samples of all types, collected from a wide array of prospective studies that include both healthy and disease-based cohorts from the hospital, local community, the Johns Hopkins Medicine Baltimore campus and a number of other partner sites around the world. The Biorepository has been a member of ISBER for over 5 years and we are grateful for the shared expertise from so many international colleagues and partners.