Biorepositories: The Solution to Cold Storage Issues

Billions of biosamples are collected each year for a plethora of studies, including research and clinical applications. One of the most pressing concerns for these samples is storage. They must be stored to maintain their integrity for at least the length of the study; however, some samples require much longer-term storage for maximum availability. Regardless of the storage term length, the focus must be placed on minimizing the risk of degradation, reducing sample loss, and saving time. Keeping these conditions at the forefront of any storage strategy will be a valuable asset for any biological facility.

Biosample Storage Principles

When storing biosamples and any associated chemicals, maintaining proper storage principles is vital for the success of your organization’s projects. Even minor failures in these procedures can have disastrous consequences. Some of these important principles include:

Sample Management And Tracking

Biorepositories are responsible for thousands of samples from hundreds of different organizations and facilities. Trustworthy biorepositories will have software that centralizes sample tracking, standardizes inventory management, and integrates with barcode identification. Without an effective system to manage and track these samples, it could easily take hours or even days to find a specific sample in the multitude of freezers in a biorepository, hindering the rapid shipping turnaround facilities expect from biorepositories.

Employing Trained Staff

Laboratories that house biosamples are not only required to treat these samples with respect but also mandated to follow all applicable laws. For example, anyone working with these samples must follow HIPAA regulations to safeguard the donors, and sample custody must be maintained to always ensure positive control of these samples. Staff that do not follow these protocols can bring about legal consequences as well as damage to a facility’s reputation within the industry.   There are many accrediting bodies that are involved to ensure the Standard Operating Procedures follow the guidelines within the accrediting body.

Using High-Quality Equipment

Biosamples and any chemicals used in biological studies must be stored in the proper environment—one that considers temperature, humidity, etc. This environment must be consistent and stable, regardless of outside circumstances such as a power outage or natural disaster. The equipment must be bought with biosample storage in mind, as freezers with a freeze-thaw cycle can be detrimental to the samples. There should also be alarm systems in place that notify staff when the designated parameters are not being met. Failure to maintain proper storage parameters can severely damage samples and render them unusable.


Some of the samples in your facility are sensitive and must be handled with care. This means unauthorized personnel should not have access to these samples at any time, requiring strong security methods. One of the most effective means of security is placing these sensitive samples in a storage unit with a lock that only authorized users can open, but this requires space for a locked unit.

Outsourcing Biological Storage

Failure in even one of these areas can have catastrophic outcomes that negatively affect your organization in both the short and long term. Unfortunately, creating a comprehensive biosample storage plan is time-consuming and costly. The samples within your facility are likely to have different temperature requirements, necessitating multiple cold storage units that will consume significant amounts of space. Laboratory space required for cold storage machines is laboratory space lost to the staff and their studies. Funds required for purchasing and installing cold storage are also unavailable for advancing the facility’s projects.

A compelling solution to the issues associated with creating a cold storage plan is outsourcing to a biorepository. A biorepository is a facility that was designed and created to house samples taken from living organisms, such as blood, tissues, and cells. They can support the needs of many different organizations, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and universities.

Biorepository Operations

Biorepositories were created as those in the biological industries recognized cold storage protocols can be difficult for facilities that have many other vital tasks to manage effectively. As a result, these facilities have comprehensive cold storage protocols in place to ensure your facility’s samples are handled professionally and safely. The primary operations of a biorepository are:

Intake Processing

Newly arrived samples are accurately recorded in the collection by scanning a unique barcode, then entering this identifying information into a biobanking LIMS. This ensures all samples are handled in the same way, minimizing variation due to handling techniques.


After the appropriate storage conditions are identified, the sample will be stored in a climate-controlled, secure freezer. Temperature monitoring systems will ensure any temperature fluctuations are addressed immediately before any sample damage can occur. The samples will remain safe in the ideal climate conditions until required by the sample owners.

Sample Distribution

When sample owners request that their samples be returned to their facility, the biorepository will quickly and efficiently package the samples and ship them back. The accurate labeling system will ensure the proper samples are sent when the request occurs, preventing any delays for your organization.

In a quality biorepository, any standard operating procedures (SOPs) will have been implemented while considering these primary functions. Every staff member will be highly trained in these SOPs to ensure sample quality by minimizing variance and standardizing practices.

Choosing A Reputable Biorepository

When your organization needs storage solutions, one of your options will be utilizing a biorepository. While considering this option, there may be concerns about the distance of your facility’s samples, how their staff will treat the samples, and their capabilities to keep the samples at the correct temperature. Choosing a reputable biorepository will eliminate these concerns with rapid shipping methods, highly trained staff members, and multiple temperature backup methods and redundant power sources, in place. Locating a dependable biorepository begins with looking for:

  •       Custom-designed storage equipment
  •       Continuous monitoring
  •       Security protocols
  •       Redundancies and backups

When considering biorepositories, transparency is one of the most important factors. It is not difficult to make claims of being an excellent facility, but it may be more difficult to support that with actual data. A biorepository that is transparent with its accreditations, SOPs, and other supporting data is most likely to keep your facility’s samples safe.

Cold Storage With GenVault

GenVault was designed by biorepository experts to ensure our facility is one of the nation’s most secure commercial biorepositories. We are fully compliant with FDA, GMP, GLP, GDP, and ISBER operational standards, all with the intent of reducing, if not eliminating, any issues that could negatively affect the integrity of your organization’s samples. To discuss how GenVault can increase laboratory space and reduce storage costs for your organization, reach out to our team today.


Billions of biosamples are collected each year for a plethora of studies, including research and clinical applications. One of the most pressing concerns for these samples is storage.