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How to Navigate Process for Requesting Human Biospecimens

Requesting human biospecimens for drug discovery and other projects can be challenging. Hurdles include navigating the approval process and making decisions that can have a downstream impact on availability, timelines, and costs. Considering many of these details ahead of time, including how they might impact your project, can help the process go more smoothly.

LifeNet Health LifeSciences will follow up by emailing a two-page application to get some basic information about your project. Once you return that to us, a team will review your request. Primary considerations include determining if your project and purpose align with the wishes of donors and their families – as well as the LifeNet Health mission of saving lives, restoring health, and giving hope. Our top commitment is to honor the precious gifts entrusted to our care.

Researchers learn within three business days if their request is approved. The next step is a call – scheduled at the earliest opportunity – to discuss specific requirements. This will be an interview, and some preparation on your part can ensure things go smoothly. Information to gather ahead of time includes:

  • The project ID number issued by your organization.
  • Donor demographics, including age range, sex, race, and body mass index.
  • The tissue type, and how many samples you would need per donor, as well as how many donors it would take to fulfill your request.
  • Collection and processing details, including warm and cold ischemia times.
  • Requirement for diseased or non-diseased tissue.
  • Sizes of the samples needed.
  • Aseptic recovery requirements.
  • Preservation methods (saline, dry ice, etc.), and whether you need any special media. These specifications in particular can affect the overall cost.
  • Shipping details, including methods such as wet ice or ambient temperature, and days of the week you can receive biospecimens. We encourage you to consider taking shipments on weekends if necessary.
  • Your FedEx or courier account number.
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria, including disease history, surgeries, and medical procedures. This part can be overwhelming, so it helps to think it through ahead of time. Donors can be excluded based on specific medication use; a history of illicit drugs, tobacco, or alcohol; chemotherapy and radiation; recent ventilator dependency; and recent illness. Keep in mind, adding exclusionary elements will limit the donor pool, which can affect availability, ultimately impacting timelines.

Following the call, LifeNet Health LifeSciences will email you a project review. Then we build a protocol based on your specifications.

Sometimes, biospecimens may be immediately available. Other times, especially with more restrictive requirements and exclusionary criteria, researchers may have to wait for the right donor. Our 40-year relationship with organ procurement organizations around the country can ensure timely fulfillment, as well as a higher level of authorization and collection standards.

Behind the scenes, LifeNet Health LifeSciences may have to train our team on packing methods or other scenarios to meet your needs. Donor families may also be informed through our consent process, which often references specific projects.

All in all, LifeNet Health LifeSciences is positioned to provide an unparalleled level of service for human biospecimens. Our process is designed to support ethical decisions that protect and honor donors and their families – all while accelerating discovery and optimizing outcomes for researchers.