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The Laboratory Robotics Interest Group
Mid Atlantic Chapter

January 2007 Meeting

Biorepositories: An Automation Frontier

Date:        January 11, 2007
Place:       Somerset Marriott Hotel, 110 Davidson Ave., Somerset, NJ 08873
                    Phone: 732-560-0500, Fax: 732-560-3669
Itinerary:  Exhibition & Social Period -  3:00pm to 6:00pm
                 Meeting & Presentations -     6:00pm to 9:00pm

Agenda:  A biobank, also known as a biorepository, is a place that collects, stores, processes and distributes biological materials and the data associated with those materials. Typically, those iological materials?are human biospecimens ?such as tissue or blood - and the ata?are the clinical information pertaining to the donor of that biospecimen. A biobank can also include tissues from other animals, cell and bacterial cultures, and even environmental samples.

Biobanks are a new frontier for biomolecular research, clinical genomics and personal medicine that seeks to integrate collections of bio-specimens (blood, DNA, tissue, biopsy specimens, etc) with corresponding patient data such as genetic profiles, medical histories, and lifestyle information.

By combining and comparing biological tissue samples with genetic and historical patient information, researchers will be able to investigate the fundamental mechanisms of diseases in rich new ways. New insights into molecular and genetic processes will lead to better techniques for predicting who may be susceptible to particular illnesses, as well as to more targeted and innovative ways to treat many diseases.

As medicine and information technologies continue to converge, biobanking offers new abilities to study the complex interaction between genes, the environment and social factors. One element of the movement toward nformation-based medicine?and computational biology, biobanking promises to be an essential tool for translating new biomedical knowledge into new clinical practices, diagnostic techniques and preventative treatments.

As the number of biobanking samples and derivatives rise, automation of sample preparation and storage becomes compelling. Interoperability and data exchange between biobanks is critical. Discoveries and recent advancements in this emerging area will be discussed in presentations from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  Exhibitors will display their latest technology from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Food and refreshments will be available FREE OF CHARGE during the Exhibition and Social Period.

There is always a Job posting board at the social. Please encourage your recruiters to give you material to post and distribute. Openings may also be posted at:

There is no fee to attend the meeting.

For information on presenting at this event or future meetings on biobanking, please contact Andy Zaayenga,

Presentation:  Our keynote speaker is Dr. David Toke, Associate Managing Director of the Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository (the largest University biorepository in the world). Dr. Toke will share his professional expertise on:

 * managing large volumes of specimens and data generated from research,
 * enabling public and private organizations to share data to enhance the research process
 * addressing the short and long term storage and logistics needs of biorepositories
 * meeting HIPAA and IRB compliance requirements and patient consent restrictions 

Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository is a nationally renowned facility and has combined partnerships with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Disease(NIDDKD), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), as well as, private organizations, such as the Cure Autism Now/Autism Genetic Resource Exchange.

Dr. David Toke is the Associate Managing Director of the Rutgers University Cell & DNA Repository (RUCDR) under the Scientific Direction of Dr. Jay Tischfield, Chair of the Department of Genetics. The RUCDR receives over 30,000 samples per year from 500 collection sites around the world. They have distributed over 400,000 Biosamples to investigators for the purpose of finding the genetic causes of common, complex diseases. He has a Ph.D. in Cell & Developmental Biology from Rutgers University and UMDNJ-Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, a Masters of Science in Zoology with Emphasis on Human Genetics and a Bachelors of Science in Biology.

Dr. Toke is the Project Manager for the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Disease (NIDDK) contract part of the National Institutes of Health and Principal Investigator and Project Manager for the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN)contract at Rutgers. In addition to his activities with the RUCDR, he is a Research Professor in the Department of Genetics and Laboratory Manger for the Department. He was nominated for the 2005 Presidential Award for outstanding service to the University for his role in designing the laboratory and core facilities in the Human Genetics Institute at Rutgers. He has been a Managing Director of the RUCDR since 1999 and has over twenty years of cell culture and management experience. He currently serves on the National Council of The International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER). In addition, he serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Cell Preservation Technology (CPT) and on the IT committee for the Department of Genetics and the RUCDR. Lastly, Dr. Toke has certification for working with Human Subjects, certified as a Clinical Laboratory Specialist in Cytogenetics and has received certification training in the shipping of biological specimens, diagnostic specimens and dangerous goods.

Presentation:   Pfizer-REMP Biofluid BioBank Store
John Williams, Ph.D.; Director, Pfizer Global Research & Development

The need, capacity and design of a unique ?0˚C/-80˚C combined automated REMP store for biofluid samples will be presented. The refrigeration design is novel and based on a system developed by Pfizer together with Environmental Specialties Inc. (ESI) for centralized ?0˚C long-term freezers. REMP has designed unique door access and robot access from a ?0˚C compartment into the ?0˚C freezers. A constraint of +/-5˚C was imposed on all ?0˚C operations. The practical impact of this constraint on operational processes will be discussed. Several aspects of the most critical component, the Luwa Environmental Specialties (ESI) cascade freezer systems will be recounted with emphasis on redundancy specifications. Performance data for the operational systems will be discussed to illustrate the time constraints required to remain within the +/- 5˚C specification. This aspect has required new REMP software incorporating a novel algorithm for optimal access to the multiple freezers to fulfill a single order across multiple storage racks. Furthermore a specific loading algorithm has been added to ensure all samples are loaded from the bottom of freezers to maximize sample cooling in partial freezers.

DNA samples are stored in the ?0˚C compartment that is a standard REMP store. DNA samples are thawed and refrozen after each access and are in the proprietary REMP 96-well 900ul tubes. Individual samples are replaced in their original locations to prevent store fragmentation. In contrast biofluid samples are in the same tubes but heat-sealed and used as single use samples to minimize freeze/thaw cycles.

The timelines for design, manufacture, and installation, will be presented. A number of functionalities that were developed for the earlier REMP stores and their reuse will be discussed, together with the rationale for a partial FAT at Oberdiessbach will be presented with respect to reduced time and cost versus potential issues.

Dr. Williams was educated in South Africa, where he earned BS/MS degrees in chemistry/biochemistry from the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg), followed by a PhD in microbiology from the University of Pretoria in 1976. He pursued post-doctoral studies with Allen Markovetz at the University of Iowa for four years, focusing on hydrocarbon oxidation in Pseudomonads and the application of R-DNA techniques, before joining the nascent Molecular Genetics Group at Pfizer in 1981. Initial projects included enzyme substrate modification via in vitro mutagenesis, and the use of R-DNA cloning in Streptomyces for novel antibiotic discovery, which in turn led to developing automation for natural products discovery at Pfizer. Insights gained during this project resulted in the concept of high-throughput screening (HTS 1986), developed in collaboration with Dr. Dennis Pereira. In 1989, Dr. Williams formed the Applied Biotechnology and Screening Group at Pfizer while continuing to develop novel assays and screening technologies. In 1994, he used the strategies and experience of HTS to form the Precandidate Technology Group that was responsible for developing high-throughput ADMET screening at Pfizer, including development of high throughput MS detection with Dr. Roderic Cole. During this phase, Dr. Williams also assumed responsibility for Pfizer compound management, and automated a number of processes to support the growing demands on this infrastructure. The most recent project has been automated storage for DNA and clinical biological samples. He is currently a Research Fellow focusing on technology, automation, their global dissemination and impact on drug discovery.

Presentation:   NCI's Recent Initiatives in Biospecimen Research and Policy
Jim Vaught, Ph.D.; Special Assistant for Biorepository Science
Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
National Cancer Institute

Recognizing that biospecimen resources are crucial to the research community, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) established the Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research (OBBR)in 2005. One of the goals of the OBBR is to unify policies and procedures for NCI-supported biospecimen resources. In early 2006 NCI released the First-Generation Guidelines for NCI-Supported Biospecimen Resources. The Guidelines include recommendations for biorepository technical and operational activities, informed consent, informatics, intellectual property and specimen custodianship. Future editions of the Guidelines will include revisions based on new NCI-OBBR initiatives in biospecimen research. Among other strategic initiatives the OBBR will also evaluate new technologies to improve the overall quality of biospecimens as well as to enhance the efficiency of collection, processing and storage of biospecimens for research.

Dr. Vaught is the Special Assistant for Biorepository Science in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. He has been working in the field of biorepository and biospecimen science for over 15 years. In 1999 he was one of the founding members of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) and its second president. Recently he has been working with other NCI experts in the new Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research on the development of the First Generation Guidelines for NCI-Supported Biospecimen Resources.

Presentation:   The Repository for the International HapMap Project
Donald L. Coppock, Ph.D.; Assistant Director
Coriell Cell Repositories, Coriell Institute for Medical Research

The International HapMap Project was established to create a resource for genetics research to make it possible to speed the identification of genes for diseases. The goal is to create a map of human variation by identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a number of populations from around the world. Coriell has provided the repository for these samples. In total there are 1,200 cell lines in the Repository. The Coriell approach to establishing this Repository will be described including interactions with the donor communities, establishment of cell lines, preparation of DNA, distribution of samples and handling the extensive data connected to the samples. Lastly, the possibility of automation of the Repository will be discussed in relation to the HapMap Repository.

Presentation:   Shared Materials Repositories at the Harvard Institute of Proteomics
Stephanie Mohr, Ph.D.; Manager, PSI Materials Repository
Harvard Institute of Proteomics, Harvard Medical School

The Harvard Institute of Proteomics (HIP) hosts the DF/HCC DNA Resource Core plasmid repository, which has a collection of more than 30,000 plasmid clones that are stored, maintained and distributed at HIP. In addition, HIP was recently awarded a five-year, multimillion dollar grant from the NIGMS division of NIH to host a similar plasmid repository for the Protein Structure Initiative, a consortia group of researchers at several institutions who have generated more than 65,000 plasmid clones as part of their efforts to resolve the 3D structures of diverse proteins. At HIP, plasmid clone samples are transformed into phage-resistant bacterial host strains, single-colony selected and used to create glycerol stocks in a highly automated, highly quality-controlled manner. Plasmid clone samples are then stored at -80 degrees C in individually barcode-labeled tubes in a state-of-the-art automated freezer storage system, the BioBank (Thermo/Zmation) and back-up samples are stored in standard freezers. Plasmid clone information (vector info, insert info, growth conditions, etc.) is carefully curated and stored in our custom Plasmid Information Database (PlasmID; Standard operating procedures for clone intake, sequence validation, storage, maintenance and distribution of plasmid clones will be discussed.

Stephanie Mohr serves as scientific liaison for the DF/HCC DNA Resource Core and is the manager of the Protein Structure Initiative Materials Repository, both of which are hosted by the Harvard Institute of Proteomics (HIP) at Harvard Medical School. As such, Stephanie coordinates transfer of plasmid clones and information from other labs to HIP; oversees curation of data for input into the Plasmid Information Database (PlasmID;; and helps to oversee storage, maintenance and distribution of plasmid clones. Prior to joining HIP, Stephanie received her PhD from the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at University of Colorado, Boulder, and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University.

Note: These presentations are archived on our Presentations page:


bulletABgene, Thermo Fisher Scientific
bulletArtificial Intelligence In Medicine (AIM)
bulletBeckman Coulter
bulletHamilton Robotics
bulletHigh Resolution Engineering
bulletLaboratory Automation & Integration, Thermo Fisher Scientific
bulletManufacturing Applications eXperts
bulletMatrix Technologies, Thermo Fisher Scientific
bulletMetropolitan Business Systems, Inc. (MBSI)
bulletMicroplate Instrumentation, Thermo Fisher Scientific
bulletMolecular Devices
bulletNunc, Thermo Fisher Scientific
bulletPopper & Sons
bulletPrinceton Cryotech
bulletREMP, Tecan Group
bulletRTS Life Science
bulletSpecs ?USA
bulletUSA Scientific

If you are interested in exhibiting at this meeting, please review our Exhibitors Information page.


Italian Pasta Station
Penne, Tri Color Tortellini
Alfredo A la Primavera
Pesto with Olive Oil and Sun Dried Tomato

Accompaniments include:
Pepper Confetti, Black Olives, Capers,
Olive Oil and Garlic, Grated Parmesan Cheese,
Garlic Bread and Breadsticks

Fajita Station
Char Grilled Chicken and Flank Steak
Saut嶪d with Onions and Peppers, Fresh Herbs
Served with Warm Soft Flour Tortillas
Salsa, Sour Cream, Guacamole, Cheddar Cheese, Tomatoes and Shredded Lettuce
Tortilla Chips

Mediterranean Display
Hummus and Baba Ghanoush with Pita Bread, Hearts of Palm
Marinated Artichokes and Imported Olives
Bruschetta with Tomato and Onion Relish and Olive Tapenade

Hot and cold Hrsdourves
Shrimp Tempura
Vegetable Spring Roll
Spinach Quiche
Scallops Wrapped in Bacon
Thai Peanut Chicken Satay
Fresh Fruit Kabob

Assorted Cookies ,Tea, Coffee, Soda ,Water
Cash Bar

Food and refreshments are free of charge to attendees - they are paid for by the exhibitors, so please be sure to visit all their tables!


Overnight Reservations

The Laboratory Robotics Interest Group has hotel rooms blocked for January 10 & 11 at the Marriott. Please call the hotel and ask for the "Laboratory Robotics Interest Group" rate.

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Last modified: February 01, 2010

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