I. General Description of the Duke BioBank
The Duke BioBank was originally created within the Duke Center for Human Genetics in
the late 1980’s as a collaboration between several Duke investigators. The main function of the
Bank at that time was the immortalization and growth of lymphoblast cell lines from whole
blood, and the extraction of DNA from those cell lines. Since then, the BioBank has grown into
a facility that serves more than 50 principal investigators with active projects. Currently, the
Duke BioBank is located in the Snyderman Building (Genome Science Research Building I) on
the medical campus of Duke University (595 LaSalle St, Durham, NC), occupying approximately
3000 square feet. Rooms housing -80 freezers are equipped with alarm systems for each freezer,
emergency power, and two-fold redundant environmental control systems (air conditioning).
Access to the facility is controlled by magnetic card-activated door locks, ensuring sample
security and confidentiality. There are several commercial BioBanks in the Durham area;
however, such facilities provide sample storage only, and are not capable of many of the sample
manipulations performed in the Duke BioBank. In addition to sample storage at 4ºC , -80ºC, and
in liquid nitrogen vapor, the full range of services available through the Duke BioBank includes:
- separation of plasma or serum from whole blood;
- storage of blood, bodily fluids, and tissue;
- extraction of DNA from blood, tissue, and saliva;
- quantization and quality testing of DNA;
- preparation of Guthrie blood cards;
- allocation of DNA and RNA, including adjustments of concentration;
- custom robotic manipulation of DNA, RNA and other liquids;
- provision and licensing of anonymized DNA samples for use as controls;
- shipping of DNA or other samples domestic and international;
- comparison of DNA samples using the CODIS marker panel.
The BioBank has an extensive array of web-based tools available for the submission of
samples. Investigators using the facility utilize sample acquisition forms that contain barcoded
stickers printed on special media that can adhere to all surfaces, including frozen tubes. These
stickers are affixed to samples such as blood tubes at the time of collection. Minimal patient
identifying information is also identified with the same barcoded stickers. In this way, the
investigator has a hardcopy record of the BioBank sample number associated with each sample.
The investigator can then enter the barcode number using our web-based sign-in software, and at
that time can either select standard sample handling instructions, or can specify custom
instructions on a sample-by-sample basis.
BioBank users can also use our web-based tools to query their sample collections in a
variety of ways. They can visualize DNA yields, sample availability, sample quality scores (e.g.
DNA quality), and gender and diagnostic information. They can then use this information to
design and submit allocation requests, or to request Bank services such as DNA and RNA
Dr. Michael Hauser took over Directorship of the BioBank in January of 2007. At this
time, the Bank underwent a systematic modernization of infrastructure and administration. In
January of 2007, a new Gentra Automated DNA Extractor was installed in the BioBank, at a
cost of approximately $200,000. In August of 2007, the BioBank was approved as an official
Duke School of Medicine Shared Resource. As part of this process, the Bank restructured its
pricing model for all services, basing each fee on the actual reagent and equipment costs and
personnel time required. Any changes in these fees must be justified in a fully transparent way
on the basis of changes in personnel, subcontract, or reagent costs. The Bank operates at or
below cost, thus providing optimal service at a competitive price. The Duke CHG Biobank is
closely affiliated with and receives financial support from the Duke Translational Medicine
Institute and the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA).
Informatics. The BioBank uses the Nautlius Laboratory Inventory Management System
(LIMS) from Thermo Scientific (Waltham MA). In July of 2008, the Bank completed a full
updating of the LIMS system, based on Nautilus software, version 8.1, installed on an Oracle
10g database server. This LIMS system is used to manage all aspects of sample data
management and BioBank workflow. When samples are received at the time of sign-in, the
Bank users have already entered basic information about sample types and amounts, along with
any special handling instructions. As part of the signin process, BioBank personnel capture
additional variables such as sample volume and sample condition. The LIMS system then is used
to track the processing of samples as they move through the Bank, creating daughter aliquots,
and maintaining full aliquot-level sample history. The LIMS system also provides the user
interface to allow users to request allocations or other Bank services. As each service is
performed by Bank personnel, Nautilus generates a billing item to manage cost accounting.
Nautilus also tracks sample allocations, decrementing sample volumes and amounts automatically
as users withdraw samples. Finally, Nautilus is integrated with laboratory equipment such as
liquid handling robotics, so as to avoid manual data entry.
Because the DNA Bank is supported in part by funds from the Duke CTSA grant,
please include the following text in the acknowledgements section of any papers using Bank resources:
"Supported in part by Duke University's CTSA grant UL1RR024128 from NCRR/NIH".