A plan for emergency shutdown and reopening for a consortium of biobanks

Monika Schmelz, Micheline Sanderson-November, Razan Humeida, Melissa Cloete, Martha Mims, Patricia Castro, Alan Leong, Lee Wisner, Sylvia Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource (ACSR) is a network of four regional biospecimen repositories and a technical core in the United States and South Africa. Its mission is to acquire, store, and distribute HIV-associated malignancy specimens and related clinical data to support translational research. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became apparent that existing ACSR Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were not sufficient to ensure long-term maintenance and integrity of inventories during periods of extended shutdown. The ACSR needed an administrative SOP for situations pertaining to epidemics/pandemics. The ACSR Quality Working Group (QWG), comprised of representatives from each of the five ACSR sites and an external member who directs a large university medical center biorepository, addressed the issue. Methods: To understand the individual problems the sites faced, questions were developed to query each of the six QWG sites' contingency plans to cover this type of emergency, the amount of work allowed onsite and by whom, the challenges sites experienced, and the lessons learned to assist with future similar situations, while remaining consistent with the existing IRB protocols. Results: Reported challenges spanned all activities of classical biobanks and differed within the geographical locations of the sites and the local COVID-19 infection rate. Review of the responses to the questions revealed that the general shutdown of society external to the biorepositories presented them with a homogeneous collection of problems, limitations, and needs. This led to creating an SOP that addresses planning for pandemic emergencies, scaling down of activities, shutting down, and reopening plans. Conclusions: The ACSR QWG sites now have a structured response SOP for their sites, including guidance on how to develop and implement an emergency shutdown and reopening plan. The complete SOP is publicly available on the ACSR website.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-398
Number of pages5
JournalBiopreservation and Biobanking
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Biorepository
  • Covid-19
  • Emergency plan
  • Shutdown
  • Sops

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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