The MIREC Biobank, created at the beginning of the MIREC study in 2008, has grown with each follow-up study.
The Biobank stores all the data and biological specimens collected since the inception of MIREC.
Through a strict application process, researchers can request access to data and biospecimens in the Biobank to explore new research questions on the health of mothers and their children. To be granted access, the research question has to be in line with the MIREC scientific objectives, meet the highest ethical standards, and be approved by the MIREC Biobank management committee. To protect the privacy and confidentiality of participants, the Biobank identifies participants by a unique code. Names and addresses are NOT stored in the Biobank.
Throughout the years, we have measured hundreds of substances in the biological samples that our participants provided. These are our “laboratory results.” For the participants that have consented to the Biobank, these laboratory results as well as the information they provided through questionnaires are added to the Biobank.
When participants consent to the Biobank, any specimen volume (for example, blood or urine) that was not used for the planned laboratory analyses goes into the Biobank, for future research.
Every specimen is labelled with a barcode and securely stored. Currently, we have 15 freezers set to minus 80 °C which holds over 300,000 small tubes containing specimens from our participants.
Security is a top priority; therefore only select staff may enter our freezer room, which requires biometric (fingerprint) access. Video surveillance inside and outside the room allows 24/7 monitoring. We also have an alarm system and on-call staff to address any freezer malfunctions.
Our banked samples are a precious nonrenewable resource. We pride ourselves on the measures we have put in place to ensure the safety and security of the specimens and data our participants have provided us throughout the years.