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Mid Atlantic Chapter

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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 “biological materials” are human biospecimens
– such as tissue or blood – and the “data” 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 “information-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,

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

 * meeting HIPAA and IRB compliance requirements and patient consent

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.

Pfizer-REMP Biofluid BioBank Store

John Williams, Ph.D.; Director, Pfizer Global Research & Development

The need, capacity and design of a unique –20˚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 –80˚C long-term freezers. REMP has
designed unique door access and robot access from a –20˚C compartment into the
–80˚C freezers. A constraint of +/-5˚C was imposed on all –80˚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 –20˚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’s 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.

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.

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

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; http://plasmid.hms.harvard.edu);
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:



bullet ABgene, Thermo Fisher Scientific
bullet ArcticWhite
bullet Arpeio
bullet Artificial Intelligence In Medicine (AIM)
bullet Beckman Coulter
bullet Biomatrica
bullet Cerionx
bullet Computype
bullet CyBio
bullet GenVault
bullet Hamilton Robotics

bullet High Resolution Engineering
bullet Labcyte
bullet Laboratory Automation & Integration, Thermo Fisher Scientific
bullet Manufacturing Applications eXperts
bullet Matrical
bullet Matrix Technologies, Thermo Fisher Scientific
bullet Metropolitan Business Systems, Inc. (MBSI)
bullet Microplate Instrumentation, Thermo Fisher Scientific

bullet Molecular Devices
bullet Nunc, Thermo Fisher Scientific
bullet Popper & Sons
bullet Princeton Cryotech
bullet Promega
bullet REMP, Tecan Group
bullet RTS Life Science
bullet Specs – USA
bullet TekCel
bullet USA Scientific
bullet velocity11

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

Sautéed 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’orsdourves

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.

Visit The Laboratory Robotics
Interest Group homepage at

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