Title: Biospecimen Research Methods

Author for citation: Peter Watson, Lise Matzke, Sheila O'Donaghue, and Stefanie Cheah at University of British Columbia

License for content: Unknown

Publication date: 2021

This is an advanced University of British Columbia-created course that is released on the edX platform. The scheduled six-week course is designed to help learners to better understand 'international best practices for biobanking and research involving human biospecimens, based on National Cancer Institute (NCI) and International Society of Biological Environmental Repositories standards (ISBER)." The course is $99 and presumably comes with a certificate of completion. The course requires on average four to five hours a week of effort.

The edX course description:

"This biology and life sciences course will enable you to collect, recognize and utilize a quality human biospecimen. The success of your research depends on the quality of the biospecimens you use. Get ahead of the competition, increase your chances of being published in high impact journals, and open doors to opportunities for working in leading biomedical research laboratories or biobanks."

By the end of this course, you will:

  • "Develop the knowledge to better collect and process human biospecimens to enhance research credibility
  • [Know] how to plan a successful research study using biospecimens
  • [Know] how to properly store and manage biospecimen data
  • Understand the ethical and privacy issues related to biobanking
  • Gain applicable hands-on techniques related to informed consent, data management, biospecimen collection and storage"

About the authors

Four instructors (Watson, Matzke, O'Donaghue, and Cheah) are affiliated with this course in some fashion. To learn more about each instructor, go to the edX course page and click on the name of each instructor.

General layout and contents of the course

The opening week begins with an overview of biospecimen research fundamentals, including collection procedures, biospecimen definition, and key issues involved. The second week gets into the details of biospecimem types, how they are processed, and how they are best preserved for specific research types. Week three gets into the details of storage, distribution, design, and safety for biospecimens, whereas the fourth week gets into the data management systems necessary to help with those activities. Week five addresses the ethics, privacy, and informed consent considerations that come with biobanking and associated research. A final exam is provides the final week.

The course

PDF.png: The course can be found on the edX site, under the Biology & Life Sciences category. Access to the class begins June 7.