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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need IRB approval in order to obtain biological specimens?

Yes. IRB approval must be in place at the time your request is made.

Is there a fee associated with acquiring biospecimens?

Yes. The fee for acquiring samples is currently $11.25 per sample plus cost of shipping.

How are the biospecimens preserved?

The samples in the Biospecimen Archive collection are stored in freezers at -20 to -25°C. In order to ensure preservation, the samples have all been transferred to new cryovials, which are stored by series in plastic cryo-tolerant boxes.

Are there limitations to the volume of sera I can obtain per sample?

Yes – the maximum volume we will distribute per sample is 0.2ml. We typically distribute specimen aliquots in amounts ranging from 0.1ml to 0.2ml, depending on the study requirements.

How are the biospecimens shipped?

All samples are shipped via Fed Ex (domestically and internationally) on dry ice unless otherwise requested. Number of samples requested determines the number of shipping containers required.

Can you provide biospecimens to researchers outside of the United States?

Yes. The Biospecimen Archive has worked with researchers in countries outside of the U.S. and can ship samples internationally via Fed Ex.

How does the request process work?

First, you will need to complete the Initial Application - see Researcher Application page to access a checklist of what you will need (electronic copy of research synopsis, electronic copy of the Principal Investigator's Curriculum Vitae, contact information, details regarding sample needs) and to find the link to the application itself.

Once submitted, you will receive an automatic email confirming the receipt of your request. You will then be contacted within five business days regarding the feasibility of your request. If it is determined that your request is feasible, you will need to complete the Final Application. The Final Application requires that you provide an IRB letter of approval from your Human Subjects Office, payment information, shipping information, and a completed Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). After these items are in place, the Biospecimen Archive Facility will process your request and ship the samples to you via Fed Ex. A tracking number will be sent to you shortly thereafter.

How long does it typically take to receive the specimens, from request to shipping?

Once the paperwork is completed, it will typically take 2-3 weeks to aliquot the samples (depending on the number of samples). Destination of samples will factor into how long the samples will take to ship. Also, partial shipments may be necessary for larger sample numbers, and this will also affect the time table.

What is a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), and what is the process for putting one in place?

A Material Transfer Agreement is a contract between two organizations for the transfer of materials. If you have completed the Initial Application and received notice that your request is approved, an MTA will be necessary in order for the samples to be processed and shipped to you. Please obtain, review, fill out and return the template MTA from our Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships c/o  The MTA as signed by your institution and recipient investigator will become part of the Final Application.

By entering into an agreement with our facility, you are agreeing to the following conditions:

  1. Compliance with provisions of an IRB-approved protocol for human subjects research.
  2. Specimens received by a contracting researcher will remain in the custody of that researcher, and will be used for teaching or non-profit research purposes only.
  3. You will reimburse the Biospecimen Archive Facility for sample cost and shipping.
  4. Because our facility does not screen samples for infectious diseases, researchers and laboratory staff should observe universal precautions and adhere to the necessary regulations for biohazardous materials.
  5. You agree to acknowledge the contributions of the Biospecimen Archive in publications related to the use of these samples, and provide a copy of the publication in either digital or print form in order for our facility to maintain a      publication record for the samples.  You may use the following statement for acknowledgement:  "The authors acknowledge the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for contributing the samples to Binghamton University through a material transfer agreement, and to the Binghamton University Biospecimen Archive Facility and the Graduate Program in Biomedical Anthropology for the archiving and preparation of samples used in this study."

Other terms and conditions apply as part of a standard Material Transfer Agreement.

Will I receive a signed MTA for my research project? If so, when?

If you have completed the Initial Application and received notice that your request is approved, an MTA will be necessary in order for the samples to be processed and shipped to you. Assuming this is done, the Biospecimen Archive will send you a signed copy of the material transfer agreement before the shipment(s) are sent. Therefore, you should receive the MTA before receiving the shipment.

Will the specimen donors be identified, de-identified, or anonymous?

All specimens received by an investigator will be de-identified and code-linked. This means that a link to the donor's identity will be maintained by our facility and not released to the recipients. Such an arrangement allows us to provide researchers with limited information on the individuals who donated the specimens and a way to insure that we can identify the transferred specimens (should the investigator need additional material), while also protecting the identity of the donor whether alive or deceased.

What information is available about the donor?

Donor information varies greatly. To find out more information, please fill out and submit an Initial Application Form.

Last Updated: 9/13/13