Discussion and Information Series



ISBER is pleased to announce that we have partnered with BBMRI-ERIC to provide a COVID-19-Ready Biobank Registry to connect researchers with biobanks across the globe that are offering samples and datasets available to assist with COVID-19-related research.

As we all have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, it is vital that we seek opportunities to provide solutions through research built on robust tissue collection practices. Biobanks have much to offer our biomedical research community, and many of our ISBER members are actively involved in facilitating COVID-19 research through their biobank.

It is crucial that the availability of these biospecimens be made known to the wider research community. Thus, ISBER has joined with its European partner BBMRI-ERIC to list all COVID-19-ready member biobanks in one location, the BBMRI-ERIC Directory with its new COVID-19 filters. By uniting our forces and promoting them to the ISBER and BBMRI communities, we will attract leading COVID-19 researchers from around the world to make contact with our biobanks so as to see the release of valuable biospecimens into the best research programs that will lead our way out of this pandemic.

The framework is ready and we now would like to invite all ISBER members to consider supporting this worldwide initiative. Does your biobank have biospecimens from patients with COVID-19 or related samples and datasets that can be readily used to assist in research that you would like to make available? If so, we invite you to join the BBMRI-ERIC Directory to make your samples easily accessible to the global research community. There is no cost to participate in the registry.


Dr. Tristan Knight, The Hospital for Sick Children, Canada

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 9 AM PST


Beginning in December 2019, a novel coronavirus, designated SARS-COV-2, has caused what rapidly became a global pandemic. The disease caused by SARS-COV-2, which has been designated COVID-19, appears to range from asymptomatic or mild, self-limited respiratory tract illness to progressive pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), multiorgan failure, and death. Optimal management of this condition has not yet been established, but in addition to supportive care, various combinations of glucocorticoids, tocilizumab, anti-virals, and anti-malarial agents have been utilized with varying degrees of efficacy. Importantly, there is growing evidence of heightened vulnerability in immunocompromised patients. The impact of SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19 on the biobanking world is evolving, but likely to be profound. The purpose of this presentation will therefore be to provide a rapid, comprehensive, and relevant update on the current state of COVID-19, with attention to the epidemiology, clinical presentation, and emerging therapeutic options.


Dr. Tristan Knight is originally from Calgary, and completed medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). After completing his pediatrics residency at the University of Hawaii and pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, he returned to Canada to undergo additional training in pediatric bone marrow transplant and cellular therapy at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, where he is currently a sub-specialty fellow.


Led by: Benjamin Otto and David Lewandowski

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 at 8 AM PST and 5PM PST


The purpose of this townhall is to bring together ISBER with it’s vendor community. We understand that the needs of these members differ from those of non-vendor members on normal days. More, we understand that the issues faced by these members under today’s situation are unique.

Therefore, here, we wish to provide a platform to foster discussion, understanding, solution sharing, and identifying opportunities for ISBER to engage with the vendors. Those opportunities deliberately shall not be restricted to the annual conferences’ and trade shows’ benefits which usually come as part of the conference registration and sponsorship. Rather, we are as well interested to hear about general issues, such as i.e. extending the ISBER member base to a broader audience, and to develop creative new ideas for engagement throughout the whole year beyond the conferences.

  • Welcome, goals, and objectives
  • Review of Town Hall rules
  • Discussion of specific measures to mitigate the opportunities lost by vendors through cancellation of the onsite conference in Anaheim 2020
  • Discussion of general opportunities for ISBER to extend it's engagement with vendors


Presented by: Dr. Tasuaki Tsuruyama (Japan), Dr. Rongxing Gan (China), Dr. Jajah Fachiroh (Indonesia), Dr. Birendra Yadev (India), Dr. Koh Furuta (Japan), Dr. Wayne Ng (Australia), Dr. Xun Xu (China), Dr. Ravi Rayanade (India)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 13, 2020 at 9 PM PST


The effects of COVID-19 on the scientific community are not yet clear. We do know, however, that the impact on biobanking will be profound. The International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) exists to serve the needs of our membership and biobanking community. The objective of this town hall is to learn from biobankers and other related fields so that we can develop tools and best practices to support our community.

The purpose of this town hall is to gather information, learn and interact with our colleagues to better understand the scope of how the biobanking community is responding to the pandemic and how we are dealing with COVID-19 today. Our goal is to glean some directives by exploring the following three questions that can be used as we negotiate this new situation:

  1. How has your general practice changed? For biobanks that have changed their model and now store SARS-COV-2 samples, what new practices have been put in place?
  2. How are biobanks engaging and supporting the larger research community?
  3. Can we identify any early lessons learned from these experiences that will allow biobanks to mitigate risk and prepare for ongoing engagement

In this interactive session, we will hear from three key biobanks from China, Japan, India, Australia, and Indonesia. Speakers will share their experience and knowledge and on the following topics:

  1. Impact on current biobanking operations
  2. Engagement with current research on COVID-19
  3. Preparedness and risk management

We encourage you to join in this town hall by sharing your questions and experience with others and learning from biobankers with first-hand experience and knowledge. Together we can forge new practices based on shared knowledge obtained through this town hall.


Presented by: Heidi Wagner (Canada), Dr. Rita Lawlor (Italy), Dr. Marta Castelhano (United States)

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2020 at 7 AM PST/ 9 am CST (CENTRAL)/ 10 am EST/ 4 Pm CEST/ 10 Pm cst (CHINA)/ 11 pm jst (jAPAN)


The effects of COVID-19 on the scientific community are not yet clear. We do know, however, that the impact on biobanking will be profound. The International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) exists to serve the needs of our membership and biobanking community. The objective of this town hall is to learn both from past epidemics and from current biobankers how biobanking and research industries can address this new challenge.

The goal of the discussion sessions is to start identifying key issues and questions that may inform how we biobank in the future. One outcome is to address the sustainability of biobanks beyond COVID-19.

The townhall agenda will follow the format of presentation followed by discussions, to contextualize the current pandemic with past experience and current biobank management.

  • Discussion by selected biobanks from the Americas and Europe who will highlight a number of scenarios that have emerged for biobanks, given this new pandemic:
    1. How to repurpose a biobank that has moved to testing COVID-19?
    2. How to manage a biobank if your staff is working remotely?
    3. How to lead a biobank under exceptional and difficult circumstances?
  • Open discussion among participants regarding how biobanks may operate after the pandemic in order to immediately contribute to the larger scientific community


Led by: Daniel Simeon-Dubach and Clare Allocca

Monday, June 8, 2020 at 9 AM EST / 6 AM PST


ISBER is presenting the next COVID-19-related webinar, "Biobanking in the COVID-19 Era: How Early Experiences Can Translate Into Actionable Wisdom" on Monday, June 8, 2020 at 6AM PT/ 8AM CT/ 9AM ET/ 3PM CEST/ 11PM CST (China)/ 10PM JST (Japan)/ 10:30PM ACST.

The ISBER Standards Committee invites you to an interactive discussion of initial findings from the recent ISBER Community COVID-19 Response survey. We will share a summary of aggregated data and selected scenarios demonstrating how tools and resources (e.g. Standards and Best Practices) can enable an appropriate crisis response. 

Thanks to the insightful contributions of the global biobanking community, we have an opportunity to support each other through the exchange of experiences, knowledge, and lessons learned. This webinar is a key step along the pathway to identifying gaps and potential solutions that will take biobank tools and resources to the next level. 

Clare M. Allocca, Vice-Chair of the ISBER Standards Committee (United States) will present a summary of the survey results. A panel discussion will follow; webinar panelists include Marta Castelhano (United States), Shannon McCall (United States), Mieke De Wilde (Belgium), Monique Albert (Canada), Zisis Kozlakidis (France), and Koh Furuta (Japan).  Q&A will be monitored by Daniel Simeon-Dubach, Chair of the ISBER Standards Committee (Switzerland), and Sergey Anisimov (Russia).