UMMS Central Biorepository

UMMS Central Biorepository

The U-M Medical School Central Biorepository (UMMS CBR) provides state-of-the-art biospecimen management so investigators can focus their efforts on research. The CBR staff have extensive expertise and experience in the logistics of biospecimen and tissue handling, transportation, distribution, and can also provide guidance on regulatory processes and biospecimen processing to analytes.
Part of the Strategic Research Initiative, and a reporting unit of the Medical School Office of Research (OoR), the CBR’s mission is to support basic, translational and populations studies by providing a standardized, accredited, regulated, safe, and monitored environment for the collection, processing, storage and distribution of high-quality, annotated, normal and diseased human biospecimens.

CBR biospecimens are valuable resources enabling translational and personalized medicine efforts at U-M:


  • More than 265,000 specimens are stored at the CBR, representing nine research programs; five more are in development
  • CBR provides expertise in regulatory issues (consents and IRB applications for example), biospecimen processing or fractionation, and biospecimen long-term storage
  • DNA has been purified from almost 40,000 specimens and is linked with qualified GWAS results from greater than 20,000 of these specimens
  • CBR staff will assist in planning for specimen collection or transferring a pre-existing collection


Speed, quality, security and partnership

CBR works within a highly-structured Quality Management System featuring standardization and validation of procedures for all services, and a centralized operation established according to international standards and best practices.

Centralization enables operational efficiencies through economy of scale and elimination of redundant biobanking workflows throughout the UMMS. CBR workflows and protocols are developed and optimized in collaboration with customers to ensure biospecimens and analytes exceed requirements.
Centralization also allows for a concentration of expertise and specialized equipment for storage, analysis, and processing of biospecimens. Sample integrity is maintained through laboratory security, portable temperature-regulated work areas, the use of automated temperature tracking and alarm systems, and backup storage units and power. Inventory monitoring and tracking of sample chain custody is achieved through the use of a dedicated Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS).

Providing solutions

  • CBR services are provided under a Quality Management System, ensuring standardized practices and validated processes
  • Secure, 24/7-monitored cryostorage of biospecimens in a CAP-accredited biorepository
  • Logistics for the collection, processing, storage and distribution of biospecimens
  • Processing of biospecimens to specified analytes, such as DNA, RNA, and plasma
  • Portable cryostorage units for short-term storage or transport of biospecimens
  • Full chain-of-custody records for specimens
  • LIMS provides study management, tracking of annotated specimens, and data storage
  • LIMS and DataDirect connects biospecimens and analytes with the study participant’s clinical data

Taking advantage of NCRC facilities

The biorepository is a key component of the Medical School’s research strategy, and as such, fast implementation of this resource was necessary. The NCRC campus provided new, well-equipped laboratories, allowing both the biorepository sample processing facility and the sample storage facility to begin operations quickly in September 2014.

CBR leadership is now working with NCRC Plant Operations and Medical School Information Services, as well as architecture and engineering construction teams, to design new, dedicated, streamlined, and efficient laboratories and storage areas for a new Central Biorepository opening in late 2017. Using existing physical infrastructure and sharing utilities and design concepts with co-located medical school departments (Pathology for example) and with Core Laboratories, will speed the construction of this new state-of-the-art facility. The new CBR will feature:

  • Continuously expanding cryostorage space
  • Dramatically increasing capacity for automated processing and distribution
  • Nucleic acid extraction from additional biofluids, tissues, and cell-free biofluids
  • Streamlined workflows for transfer of retrospective biospecimen collections

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