Biobank Management systems

OpenSpecimen is a free and open source Biobank Information Management System (BIMS) that has been built using NCI caTissue 1.2. It is an ICT-system that facilitates the ‘check-in’, ‘check-out’, and sample tracking of collected biomaterials and its main functionality is sample management. The system helps improve traceability and guard quantity and quality of samples and storage conditions.

OpenSpecimen has many new features, an improved user interface and is much faster than caTissue. It is used in 15 countries and is used by more than 55 biobanks (most outside Europe), including some of the most respected biobanks of various sizes and diseases such as Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Victorian Cancer Bank, The university of Auckland, Singapore General Hospital, Lund university. OpenSpecimen streamlines management of bio-specimens across collection, consent, Quality Control (QC), request and distribution1,2. Finally, OpenSpecimen is highly configurable and customizable. E.g., adding custom fields or custom forms can be done in minutes by a non-IT person.

Why OpenSpecimen?

In the Netherlands, several different BIMS are used within the eight biobanks of the university hospitals (UMCs). Some institutes have purchased and adapted commercial systems, others have custom built registries using standard available tools such as MS Access databases and/or MS Excel spreadsheets to store sample data. Within the UMCs many studies are performed without using the offered BIMS of the UMC Biobank, e.g. because of the small number of samples to be collected and the high costs to define the study in BIMS. Furthermore, an increasing number of general hospitals participates in / initiates clinical studies. Most of these hospitals do not have a BIMS and use custom made MS Access databases or MS Excel-sheets to register their local bio samples. MS Access and MS Excel are not designed to store bio sample meta-data and facilitate sample tracking. Excel sheets and Access databases are error-prone and lack a complete audit trail of the bio sample. 

This is why we set up BBMRI-NL’s OpenSpecimen: it’s very flexible, it makes track and trace of samples possible (in a centralized system), it decreases the possibility of registration errors, samples are registered in a standardized manner and OpenSpecimen can be easily used in a multi-center setting.

Intended users

Researchers who are now using Excel or Access to store their bio samples and researchers who want to create a virtual biobank in a multi-center study are the target group of OpenSpecimen.

Using OpenSpecimen

Contact the Service Desk or email Erik van Iperen to start using OpenSpecimen.

Additional Information

This service was funded as a BBMRI-Voucher project and developed in collaboration with BBMRI-WP4.

For support on OpenSpecimen, contact Erik van Iperen from Durrer Center or the Service Desk.