The Biopathology Center (BPC) is part of the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (AWRI) and provides a full range of services related to biospecimen procurement, banking, processing, and distribution. The BPC is accredited by the College of American Pathologists Biorepository Accreditation Program (CAP BAP) and houses numerous biospecimen collection efforts, including the biorepositories of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded Children’s Oncology Group, NRG Oncology-Columbus (formerly the GOG Tissue Bank), and SWOG. Also part of the BPC are the NCI-funded Pediatric Division of the Cooperative Human Tissue Network, and the Biospecimen Core Resource of the Center for Cancer Genomics (CCG), as well as numerous biospecimen collections sponsored by funded NCH investigators. The BPC facilities are located at the main hospital campus on 700 Children’s Drive and at the SciTech Campus Corporation on Kinnear Road.
The BPC actively participates in protocol development processes by offering expert advice on the procurement, handling, and shipment of biospecimens. This includes helping to define biospecimen requirements so appropriate high quality samples are acquired in support of the research aims of a study. For example, biospecimen collection kits are assembled by the BPC and distributed to over 500 participating COG, NRG Oncology, and SWOG national and international institutions. Some biospecimens require confirmation of diagnosis by pathology review (coordinated by the BPC), or molecular testing to ensure enrollment on the appropriate therapeutic protocol by risk-stratification. The BPC utilizes rigorous quality standards, including final review by a pathologist, to identify the most suitable biospecimens for distribution to approved investigators. Tracking of documentation associated with any project (including biospecimen applications, IRB approvals, and material use agreements) is also provided.
The BPC has developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for biospecimen procurement and handling in accordance with several guidelines, including those sponsored by AWRI, the NCI’s Best Practices for Biospecimen Resources, the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories’ (ISBER) Best Practices: Recommendations for Repositories, and the NCI-sponsored Group Banking Committee. Because we are CAP BAP accredited all our SOPs and our Quality Management System (QMS) are also in compliance with the accreditation requirements of that program. The BPC receives up to 1,000 biospecimens a day (from >500 national and international institutions), and also distributes biospecimens to numerous approved investigators on a regular basis. Based on the customized requests submitted by investigators, the biospecimens are prepared using a variety of methods (e.g., formalin fixed-paraffin embedded tissue blocks, touch imprints of solid tumor surface). The BPC is also experienced in shipping frozen, ambient, FFPE tissues domestically and internationally in compliance with IATA (International Air Transportation Association) Shipping Regulations.
Today, more than 4 million biospecimens are stored by the BPC using various storage modalities, including liquid nitrogen and -80ºC mechanical freezers. In addition to storage/banking services, we offer other services including histology, virtual microscopy, and molecular genetics processing services, due to our affiliations with the Morphology Core, the Molecular Genetics Core, and the COG Reference Laboratories (ALL, Neuroblastoma, Wilms Tumor, Medulloblastoma) also housed at AWRI. Both Cores and the Reference Laboratories provide services accredited by the College of American Pathologists under their Laboratory Accreditation Program (CAP LAP) and certified by CLIA for patient related testing.
The entire biorepository is monitored by the Mesa Environmental Monitoring System to ensure proper sample storage conditions 24 hours a day. In the event of a power failure, the NCH Campus biorepository is connected to a 180 kilowatt diesel powered generator that will keep the freezers operating until full power is restored. The off-site Kinnear location is also equipped with a diesel-powered generator. Biospecimens are maintained within locked rooms located in secure buildings that can only be accessed by employee keycards and/or keys and key fobs.
Informatics related services are also provided by the BPC. Our Specimen Tracking And Reporting System (STARS) is an enterprise system that facilitates best practices related to biospecimen management and distribution (developed by the BPC Informatics Team). Comprised in STARS is the “biospecimen life cycle” for all biospecimens handled by the BPC (including accessioning, processing, testing, transferring, banking, distributing, reporting, and auditing). Other services provided in the area of informatics include institutional performance monitoring, interactions with the statistical and data centers of the 3 NCTN Groups, DocuSAM (Document Imaging and Management System), online real time biospecimen kit request/tracking, and digital pathology/virtual microscopy.