As leaders in the development of best practices for repositories, the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) recently announced the release of The ISBER Best Practices: Recommendations for Repositories, Fourth Edition. In addition to covering a wide range of scientific and technical issues, The ISBER Best Practices also covers various ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) related to biorepository operation, including:

  • Informed consent
  • Ethics review
  • Protections for privacy of participants and confidentiality of their data
  • Withdrawal of informed consent
  • Governance of biorepositories
  • Special consideration of communities, populations, ethnic and social groups

The ISBER Best Practices is freely available and can be downloaded at www.isber.org/bestpractices.

The ISBER Best Practices: Recommendations for Repositories, Fourth Edition, presents the most effective practices for the collection, long-term storage, retrieval, and distribution of biospecimens. These are either evidence-based or consensus-based practices for collection, long-term storage, retrieval, and distribution of biospecimens. They promote the availability of high-quality biological and environmental biospecimens for future research. As current ISBER President Dr. Zisis Kozlakidis explains, “Improving the quality of biobanking practices is essential to improving research outcomes, especially in the fields of precision medicine. The ISBER Best Practices will advance the science of biobanking to the level required to support future healthcare breakthroughs.” The Best Practices will lead toward increased biospecimen quality from collection to discovery. Questions about the Best Practices can be directed to bestpractices@isber.org.

ISBER was established in 1999 to promote quality standards for biorepositories/biobanking, including ethical as well as scientific and technical standards. ISBER has been associate partner/collaborator with PRIM&R for many years, providing joint programs of common interest related to human specimen biorepositories, including workshops, preconference programs at PRIM&R's annual conferences on advanced tissue banking, and ISBER meeting sessions and workshops on ELSI issues. ISBER also provides a group forum for discussion of a wide range of topics related to biorepositories, including emerging ELSI issues and approaches to common challenges.

In addition, ISBER serves as the international voice for repositories on emerging ethical, regulatory and policy issues. Through the ISBER Science Policy Committee, ISBER provides the perspectives of the ISBER membership on a wide range of issues related to biorepositories and biospecimen research. The Committee communicates to and solicits input from members on emerging science policy issues and provides analysis of policies and regulations that may impact biospecimen research. It develops policy statements that may arise from the interests of ISBER members, or in response to requests for public comment.

ISBER welcomes new members from the PRIM&R community. For additional information on the benefits of ISBER, membership, please visit our website or contact info@isber.org.

ISBER is the only global forum that addresses harmonization of scientific, technical, legal, and ethical issues relevant to repositories of biological and environmental specimens. ISBER fosters collaboration; creates education and training opportunities; provides a forum for the dissemination of state-of-the-art policies, processes, and research findings; and provides an international showcase for innovative technologies, products, and services. Together, these activities promote best practices that cut across the broad range of repositories that ISBER serves.

Marianna J. Bledsoe, MA, is an independent consultant on biobanking and research policy issues. She is also Deputy Editor for the journal, Biopreservation and Biobanking and Chair of the ISBER Science Policy Advisory Committee. Marianna has been a faculty member of PRIM&R for many years, teaching advanced tissue banking programs and presenting at specimen research related workshops at PRIM&R annual meetings.

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