How Coriell’s Biobanking Logistics Team Maintains Sample Integrity

Cyndi Peterson

The Coriell Institute for Medical Research is among the most trusted biobanks in the world. The collections in our care represent the most diverse set of biosamples and we set the gold standard in quality around the world.

This legacy for biobanking excellence is rooted deep in our history. In fact, our founder, Dr. Lewis L. Coriell, recognized early the need for standardized and reliable biological materials and he led an effort to develop and improve the many scientific processes that go into full service biobanking. Our Cell Culture Lab—as well as cell culture labs around the world—still uses techniques and tools developed by Dr. Coriell and his team.

Today at Coriell, one team is responsible for a sample’s care from beginning to end—the Biobanking Logistics team. This department manages a complex and wide range of tasks and responsibilities to ensure the samples in our care are received and stored properly, and shipped with care to researchers.

Cyndi Peterson serves as one of the Team Leads for our Biobanking Logistics group. She answered the following questions about how we process, protect, and ship these invaluable samples.

What does the Biobanking Logistics team do at Coriell?

The priority for our department boils down to one thing: sample integrity. Whether it’s compiling kit components to receive samples in a safe and compliant way, or using temperature-monitored equipment to store them, the safety of the samples is priority one. This includes all stages in between including equipment maintenance, emergency transfers, distributing samples worldwide, and recording storage locations. We perform regular equipment maintenance in order to keep our equipment running efficiently, such as freezer maintenance and defrosting, incubator filter changes, and alarm testing.

Our team is one of only a few at Coriell that sees the process from start to finish. We assemble and ship kits for sample collection, we receive those samples in multiple product types from the labs to freeze or store, and finally, we ship out these samples worldwide for researchers and/or deliver them internally for further processing.

We are also responsible for keeping the samples organized and stored at the proper temperatures. Each storage device has unique nomenclature for how the samples are stored. It is our job to ensure proper data entry so those samples can be found upon request.

Because we ship our samples all over the nation and across the globe, we have certifications for the proper packaging of biological samples for transport. We renew our certifications regularly and keep up with changes in the interim. We work closely with Customer Service to ensure proper paperwork is in order for international shipments to avoid delays in customs.

We have many different types of samples in the collections in our care. How are each stored?

We store our cell lines either submerged in liquid nitrogen (glass ampoules are stored at -196C) or in the vapor phase of liquid nitrogen (plastic cryovials stored at -150C). DNA is kept in -80C freezers and specimen quality control samples are stored at -20C. Cell pellets & biofluids are stored at -80C. While in process in the labs, samples can be stored anywhere from -196C in transport dewar flasks, up to 37C in the incubators.

What equipment is utilized by your team?

We use controlled rate freeze machines with specific programming to freeze cell lines from the labs. These units freeze the sample at a controlled rate proven to result in improved viability upon recovery.

Our Vario™ freezers hold -80C by injecting liquid nitrogen vapor at a precise rate in order to maintain temperature at -80C. Using this type of -80C freezer saves significantly on electric usage but also minimizes the potential for mechanical failure. Most repairs on -80C Varios™ can be completed without a temperature change in the chamber because of their temperature stability.

We ship samples to scientists in over 80 countries across the world. How is a sample prepared and safely shipped?

We ship samples at many different temperatures, including frozen (-80C). If a cell line is requested “live” the frozen cell line is delivered to Coriell’s Cell Culture lab by our team for them to thaw and culture to a state where they are viable and safe to ship. The samples are then returned to our team to package and ship according to DOT/IATA regulations.

When samples are requested frozen, our team retrieves the samples, packages them according to DOT/IATA regulations, and ships them on dry ice. We also ship DNA both ambient and frozen (upon request). DNA plates, cell pellets, plasmid/protein/antibodies, and biofluids are shipped frozen. We prepare the shipping containers and packaging materials according to regulations and place all necessary labels accordingly.

What would you like scientists ordering from Coriell to know about the Biobanking Logistic team?

Our team understands the importance of the samples in our care. We do everything in our power to maintain the equipment that houses the samples. We package samples for shipment in ways that will keep them safe in transit so they are viable upon delivery. This allows researchers to continue their important work.

We monitor the equipment the samples are stored in and respond in the event of a failure to transfer the contents as quickly and as safely as possible, minimizing temperature excursions for the samples. We carefully record data and verify accuracy for samples we store for efficient re-location.

 Accuracy is a necessity on our team, and working together, we are successful each day.

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