Each patient is a research biorepository: informatics-enabled research on surplus clinical specimens via the living BioBank

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021 Jan 15;28(1):138-143. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocaa236.


The ability to analyze human specimens is the pillar of modern-day translational research. To enhance the research availability of relevant clinical specimens, we developed the Living BioBank (LBB) solution, which allows for just-in-time capture and delivery of phenotyped surplus laboratory medicine specimens. The LBB is a system-of-systems integrating research feasibility databases in i2b2, a real-time clinical data warehouse, and an informatics system for institutional research services management (SPARC). LBB delivers deidentified clinical data and laboratory specimens. We further present an extension to our solution, the Living µBiome Bank, that allows the user to request and receive phenotyped specimen microbiome data. We discuss the details of the implementation of the LBB system and the necessary regulatory oversight for this solution. The conducted institutional focus group of translational investigators indicates an overall positive sentiment towards potential scientific results generated with the use of LBB. Reference implementation of LBB is available at https://LivingBioBank.musc.edu.

Keywords: just-in-time biobanking; phenotyped specimen data; phenotyped specimens; translational research services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biological Specimen Banks / organization & administration*
  • Data Warehousing
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Humans
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • Phenotype*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Translational Research, Biomedical*