Biorepositories for the Public GoodPartnering for Response to the Pandemics of the Future

Access to well-characterized quality specimens and associated data is a key barrier for research and development of medical countermeasures. There are existing resources that provide samples, but most have limited access or are collections of convenience and not fully representative of biological and geographical breadth.  Our purpose is to align with current initiatives at the WHO, CEPI, FIND, NIH, PATH, EVA-G, and the public health and research community  to facilitate sample and resource sharing at critical response periods to emerging pathogens and infectious diseases of public health interest.  Most accessible samples are collected for existing programs or projects, few are collected with the intent to share broadly to advance research, diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics for infectious diseases of high concern.

An open-source, trusted, enduring resource of quality samples remains unrealized, and the need is evident each time a new outbreak emerges (Zika in 2016, COVID-19 in 2020).   A system that targets locally owned prospective or existing well-annotated collection of quality samples, if realized, can fill this gap, and allow for rapid development of diagnostic and therapeutic countermeasures.  

This workshop takes the next step to our previous discussion in December 2020, and our grass-roots approach to building a federated, locally owned coalition of willing partners to explore key requirement for creating a sustainable a Virtual Biorepository (VB).  In this workshop we will seek participants’ input on:

Lessons learned from sample exchange and biorepository experience during Dengue, Zika epidemics and COVID-19 pandemic response

  • What types of samples should be prioritized to store, share, and accrue?
  • What should be the minimal quality standards and criteria for these samples and associated data?
  • How should the many COVID-19 collections that now exist be made accessible

Identifying solutions to barriers that may interfere with timely access and benefits sharing to users and providers alike

  • How should specimens and data be collected and harmonized?
  • What are possible solutions to legal and regulatory challenges that impede timely sharing such as: local laws, shipping, and benefit sharing policies like the Nagoya protocol?
  • How to be responsive to the needs of different stakeholders (commercial and academic and other)?

Operationalizing a federated sample sharing system where ownership is maintained and sustained

  • Can we identify the benefits and advantages for sample providers? For users?
  • What are some successful models of equitable sharing and governance structure retaining local ownership?
  • What should be some of the key features of VB system to ensure sustainability?

Download the agenda here [PDF, 311kb]

Download the Background and Questions document here [Word doc, 723kb]

Date of workshop: 7 December 2021


Workshop: Virtual Biorepository Resources for COVID-19 and Other Diseases of Epidemic Potential - A Global Grass Roots Conversation

The COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted our interconnectivity and the need for stakeholders to address gaps and challenges together in a broader, participatory forum. One of the recurring challenges has been the lack of accessible, quality samples to advance the science of high impact pathogens like the newly emerged coronavirus. Trusted, well-archived and well-characterized samples, and readily accessible resources are needed to avert delays in development of treatments, vaccines, and diagnostic tests.

This workshop aims to engage the stakeholder community to focus on the benefits of a virtual biorepository (VBR) to provide equitable and efficient access to samples. A sustainable solution needs to provide benefits for sample contributors and users alike. We want to explore together what should be the benefits of participating in the VBR? What are some risks associated with the approach and mitigation strategies to consider?

The workshop will cover definitions and basic features of a VBR, our instrument for gathering information about desired benefits, and brief presentations by a panel of experts to address current barriers to access and solutions, followed by discussion.

1. Understand the virtual biorepository approach for access to well characterized specimens
2. Identify the benefits of participating in the Virtual Biorepository network
3. Consider current barriers to access and examples of working solutions

Get involved by completing the Virtual Biorepository Benefits Survey

Date of workshop: 10 December 2020