ISBER 2020 Virtual Symposium

ISBER 2020 Virtual Symposium

In partnership with UHN Biospecimen Services


October 22-23, 2020
North American Eastern Time



Regular Registration $75 USD - member
$75 USD - UHN Staff*
$125 USD - non-member
Student/Technician** $50 USD - member
$50 USD - UHN Staff*
$100 USD - non-member

*If you are a UHN staff member, please email from your work email address to request the discounted registration rate.

**If you are not a current ISBER student/technician member, please submit proof of your student status or a letter from your employer to to receive the student/technician registration rate.

Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs):

Delegates in countries identified by the World Bank as Low and Lower-Middle Income are eligible for a 50% discount on meeting registration. Delegates in countries identified as Upper-Middle Income are eligible for a 25% discount on meeting registration. If you are eligible to receive a discount please contact

To confirm the income classification for your country, please click here.

Please note that if you are also a technician or student, you will receive only the LMIC discount or the technician/student discount, whichever is higher.


Registration Deadline: October 18, 2020 at 11:59pm North America Eastern Time

Meeting Dates: October 22-23, 2020
Timezone: North America Eastern Time

Registration for this virtual event gives you access to the virtual meeting platform, including all live sessions and session recordings.

All sessions will be recorded for on-demand viewing so that you can still participate in the meeting if your local time zone doesn't quite line up with the live session timings.

The theme of the symposium is "Biobanking for Tomorrow: Act Local, Think Global"

8:15 - 8:45 Coffee and Networking
9:00 - 10:15 Welcome and Keynote 1

Defining the Value in Biobanks
Presented by Peter Watson, BC Cancer Agency, Canada

Biobanks are one of many forms of research infrastructures that primarily exist to support health research. Research infrastructures are developed and mature for a period. Infrastructures then either decline or disappear as research needs evolve, or they transform to persist. The biobank community has recently focused on sustainability mostly from the perspective of the biobank. However the sustainability of biobanks is also very dependent on the value placed on this type of research infrastructure relative to other research infrastructures from the perspective of research. The determination of this value is closely linked to the quality of samples, the properties of cohorts, and the performance of the entity. This talk will consider the topic of biobank value, the factors that influence the assessment of value, and some solutions to enhance value.
10:15 - 11:00 Visit with Exhibitors
11:00 - 12:00 Invited Speakers

Informatics and Big Data
Speaker TBD

Liquid Biopsies
Presented by Michael Fraser, UHN Research, Canada
12:45 - 13:45 Oral Abstract Presentations
14:15 - 14:45 The Global Microbiome Conservancy - Preserving and Understanding Our Global Microbial Heritage
Presented by Mathieu Groussin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Biodiversity is disappearing rapidly at a global scale. These widespread losses include a critical but often- overlooked ecosystem: the microbial biodiversity of the human gut. A rapidly growing body of literature now shows that this complex microbial community – the gut ‘microbiome’ – is critical to metabolism, immunity, and health. Imbalances in this community, including lack of early exposure to important microbes have been linked to diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. The human gut microbiome is being profoundly disrupted by the widespread adoption of industrialized diets, lifestyles, and excessive use of antibiotics. As the global population increasingly shifts to urban centers, this critical biodiversity is at risk of experiencing further perturbations and losses. We founded the Global Microbiome Conservancy (GMbC) as an international and collaborative initiative to biobank the global biodiversity of the human microbiome before it is lost to industrialized diets and lifestyles. We aim to develop it as a non-commercial research platform for the scientific community and as a long-term central repository for infinite preservation. So far, we biobanked 15,000+ bacterial strains sampled from more than 30 communities of various lifestyles worldwide. Investigations on these resources expand our understanding on the microbiome of under-represented human populations and illuminate how industrialization perturbs human gut ecosystems.
15:00 - 16:00 Panel Discussion: Pan Canadian COVID- 19 Biobanking: Consent / Challenges / Successes
Panel Participants include:
Vincent Mooser, McGill Genome Centre, Canada
Shahid Husain, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, Canada
Allison Crawford, University of Toronto, Canada
8:15 - 8:45 Coffee and Networking
9:00 - 10:15 Daily Briefing and Keynote 2

The Value and Evolution of Patient/Participant Engagement and Experience
Presented by Nicole Sieffert, Independent Consultant, USA

Remote Consent and E-Consent
Speaker TBD
10:15 - 11:00 Visit with Exhibitors
11:00 - 11:45 Sponsor Showcase
Featuring Agilent Technologies, PHC Corporation of North America, and more
12:15 - 14:45 ISBER Workshop: Biobank Business Planning Today for a Secure and Sustainable Tomorrow
Presented by:
Marianne Henderson, National Cancer Institute (NCI), USA
Kirstin Goldring, AstraZeneca, UK
Daniel Simeon-Dubach, medservice, Switzerland

Biobanks must ensure sustainability through a sound business plan with a defined vision and mission, an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and defined performance metrics. Business and environmental risks and mitigation strategies must be developed. Also, there is a strong need to know the different stakeholders with the ability to review and adapt to challenges and future market requirements. Today's crises are highlighting the mandate for all biobanks to engage in business planning. Due to many variabilities, e.g. size, scope, and research area, the applicability of a business plan may differ. This workshop will provide the basic elements that should be considered when drafting a business plan. Participants will receive information and some homework. We will ask to give some thoughts on what to consider when drafting a COVID-19 focused business plan. We will discuss the importance of considerations needed when adding new scope within a business plan.
14:45 - 15:45 Poster Abstract Presentations
15:45 - 16:15 Daily Digest and Closing Remarks

Please click here to view the speaker biographies!