Sample Collection Tips


Before starting any project, calculate how much the samples will cost and determine whether you can do the work within a fixed budget.  Sometimes projects need to be modified based on the availability of funds.

A biorepository will base their pricing on the information you provide at the time you request for a quote. Plan wisely to avoid any additional costs.  Prices will vary depending on the number of samples and information. In general, larger collections will cost less per sample.

Receiving and Storing the Samples

Before a repository ships samples, they usually send us an email with the sample identification numbers and expected time of arrival.

At that time, create labels for all the samples.  The labels that work best for us are cryogenic labels for laser printers. We can purchase them in different colors to color code our samples. For example: blue for saliva, red for blood, and yellow for serum. The laser printer can create hundreds of labels in a few minutes

Expect skipped sequences and delivery of samples out of sequence. Patients might respond to an advertisement but not come back with proper documentation or come back at a much later date. Keeping labeled empty vials may result in confusion. Decide whether to keep the sample ID created by the repository or create a new ID.

We store samples according to sample types.  For example, all saliva samples are kept in one set of boxes and all serum samples are kept in a different set of boxes.  The boxes are stored in trays labeled saliva, serum, plasma or blood.  Due to different protein concentrations, we use different amounts of saliva than serum in our experiments.  It is easier to keep the samples that will be analyzed as group together than to go digging in different boxes.

Shipping Samples to Other Locations

Sample transfer involves coordination between who is shipping the samples and who is receiving the samples. Samples can cost a lot of money so it is important that nothing goes wrong during shipment.

For weekend deliveries, it is sometimes safer to have fedex hold the package for you.  Sometimes a collection will be performed on a friday and it will need further processing the next day.  If fedex has a no weekend deliveries message for your business that they will not deliver on weekends and you will need to track the package before it goes to waste.

We keep a bound notebook and an online spreadsheet for documenting when samples are received.  When an order is placed, entries for all expected samples is created with the PO number in the bound notebook.  As we receive samples, they are logged into the notebook and spreadsheet.  It is easy to monitor how many samples we have and how many more are expected.

The samples, and their location, are logged into a company folder we keep in the clouds for easy reference no matter where we want to access the information. All the sample information is also stored in our in-house database.

When samples are shipped, an excel spreadsheet listing all samples is emailed to the receiver. Fedex tracking number is also emailed to both parties. When a shipment is received, the receiver sends an email to the shipper stating in what condition the samples arrived.

This test is intended to be used by scientists for research purposes only.

This work was supported by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under Contract No. W81XWH-13-C-0091. The views, opinions and/or findings contained in this report are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy or decision unless so designated by other documentation.

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