The challenge of establishing, growing and sustaining a large biobank
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Laboratory medicine professionals have a unique understanding of the wealth that biological samples bring to clinical research, and of the need for quality standards for the collection, transportation, storage and analytical phases. The expertise of laboratory physicians and scientists also adds value to the interpretation and publication of the results of clinical research studies. This is an account of the evolution of over thirty five years of the Biobank/Clinical Research Clinical Trials Laboratory at one Canadian health sciences centre. The logistical, financial, and quality management challenges are presented in growing from a small-scale facility to one that now stores three million well-characterized samples from more than seventy countries, representing five continents and five major ethnic groups. This is an account of a journey, it is not intended as a guide as to how to create an 'ideal' biobank. Collaboration, collegiality, consistency, creativity and clinical collaborators, are the keys to progress, but there must first be a vision, one that can expand to embrace new opportunities.