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Digital biobank to increase visibility for MRC/UVRI/LSHTM Uganda Research Unit

Some of the freezers where majority of the sample specimens are stored

The Frozen Specimen Archive (FSA) which is the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit’s storage center for bio research samples is conducting an assessment of all the stored sample specimen in the Freezer rooms to digitise all the biological sample collections, to identify the types of samples and the projects to which they belong.

The transition from database to Freezerworks, a fully configured Laboratory Information Management system (LIMs), trusted and used by many biobanks, laboratories, and biorepositories in the world will drastically streamline sample tracking and management while adhering to best practices and regulatory requirements by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology.

The biorepository has approximately three million bio-specimens in storage consisting of different sample types such as plasma, whole blood, serum, urine, stool, hair, breast milk, PBMCs, different swab collections among others. For starters, 38% already have full details in the sample storage database Freezerworks, while 27% have partial details in the access database.

In addition, the FSA has acquired bio banking registration status by the renowned Canadian Tissue Repository Network. Since registration in 2019 the storage center has expanded to three freezer rooms accommodating 78 freezers, acquired a new Lab80k Nitrogen tank for bulk Nitrogen storage and recruited more staff to manage the growing bulk of incoming samples from on-going scientific studies.

The FSA is working towards transforming into a fully-fledged biobank to guarantee its competency, increase its visibility as well as researcher’s confidence in the biorepository and hence attract collaborations. Full accreditation of the FSA will also increase the utilisation of the available collections.

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