UB opens first biorepository facility in Western New York

UB holds event Friday to celebrate facility opening

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UB opened its new biorepository facility Friday, providing “state-of-the-art” storage for research samples at UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center.

The UB Biorepository is a mechanized facility that collects, processes, stores and distributes millions of biological samples and keeps them in the lab at a constant -81 degrees Celsius. Committees have been working on creating UB’s “vital” biorepository for seven years. Now, UB is the first SUNY college to have a biorepository. It is open to UB researchers as well as researchers from other public and private colleges and universities, research centers and industry partners. 

The facility is the first UB research lab using barcodes –– instead of handwritten labels –– for patient samples, removing the “possibility for human error in sampling” and speeding up the process, according to Nina Johnson, research support specialist for Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships. Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer and director of technology development at Rutgers University and a consultant to the biorepository, says having a centralized biorepository is essential in advancing biomedical research.

Roughly 100 faculty members and researchers attended the opening event Friday to hear how the center will benefit UB and the rest of the community. 

“There’s no doubt that this centralized comprehensive biorepository will set UB and Western New York apart when it comes to attracting and recruiting experts in translational science and precision medicine,” Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said.

 General labs allow for conducting similar research, but the biorepository ensures samples are quality-controlled, barcoded and “more stable.”

“[All sampling] is going to be done the same way, there is no question of anyone doing it differently than anybody else,” Johnson said. “Regardless of who puts a sample on, the programs are never going to change, everything is going to be handled the same way.”

The biorepository also makes the sampling process much faster, according to Johnson, since everything is mechanized.

“Instead of a person sitting there and aliquoting serum samples repeatedly … now that everything is automated it’s all going to be the same,” Johnson said.

 UB’s biorepository has 14 machines in the facility, including environmental monitoring and storage systems, quality assurance machines, liquid handlers and nucleic acid isolation and tissue culture hoods.

 “What we have created, and will continue to cultivate, is truly an exceptional research [facility] for all of us,” Cain said.

Brittany Gorny is the senior news editor and can be reached at brittany.gorny@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @BrittanyGorny.