If you need biospecimens for research, there are several good reasons for outsourcing that process. We’ve discussed them in a previous article, The Advantages of Outsourcing Biospecimen Procurement. In this post, we discuss things to keep in mind when you are choosing a biospecimen procurement specialist.
The main thing to understand is that human biospecimens are not commodities. They are a resource donated by people to be used for the advancement of scientific research. As a result, it is the service of sourcing biospecimens that is being provided by a biospecimen procurement specialist.
We have discussed in another article (Types of Biospecimen Collections) the two main types of biospecimen collections: retrospective and prospective. In the case of a retrospective collection, the biospecimens already exist and were previously collected for clinical diagnostic or research purposes. For prospective collections, the samples do not already exist and must be collected from subjects willing to contribute their samples to your research study. In either case, much knowledge and expertise is required in order to match and source the exact samples a researcher needs.
Biospecimen Retailer vs Broker Model
In the biospecimen procurement space, there are a few business models that are emerging: the retailer, the broker or a combination of both.
In this context, a retailer is a company that has an inventory of biospecimens available to ship. The samples could have been obtained through their own network of clinicians/hospitals, or through partner providers/companies.
A broker, in comparison, acts as an intermediary between a researcher and the world’s biospecimen suppliers. Rather than accessing a specific inventory of samples, they access their knowledge of where best to source the entire range of biospecimens. They work for the researcher to find the specific biospecimens they need.
In general, we believe that a good biospecimen procurement specialist has to be less like an online retailer and more like a shipping broker. An online retailer such as Amazon or eBay publicly displays their inventory, and invites customer orders through a web interface. Due to the complex nature of many biospecimen requests, this retailer model may not be suitable on many occasions.
SampleSmart operates like a broker, not a retailer. SampleSmart monitors its network of biospecimen providers, continuously updating its profile of their inventories, acquisition capabilities, cost structures, reliability, etc. When a sample request comes in from a client, SampleSmart determines the best available providers for that researcher’s specific requirements, and asks them for a quote. The best options are presented to the client, who makes the final selection. SampleSmart then manages the job from start to finish.
In this model of biospecimen procurement, it is biospecimen expertise and people management skills that are all-important. The project managers at SampleSmart have a passion for biospecimens, and it’s important to us that we not only meet but exceed your expectations.
Features of a Good Biospecimen Procurement Specialist
We know that sourcing biospecimens for your research can be difficult, and time-consuming. Here are a few important features to look for in a biospecimen procurement specialist.
1. Access to a Wide Array of Samples
Whether you have a relatively simple request or a fairly complicated one, a good biospecimen procurement specialist should be able to source across all samples types and diseases/indications. This is likely achieved by having a wide network of partner biospecimen providers that are able to meet all sorts of biospecimen requests.
2. Ethics and Compliance
A good biospecimen procurement specialist should have sample ethics and compliance at their forefront. This is a critical component of the procurement process. It should be clear that all biospecimens are sourced following appropriate ethical and regulatory compliance guidelines. All ethical documentation should be provided as requested by the customer.
2. Customer Focused
Ultimately, a biospecimen procurement specialist is working for the benefit of the customer. As a result, it is critical that a good biospecimen procurement specialist works with the customer to meet as many of their requirements as possible, whether this be sample specifications, cost, timeline, location, logistics, etc.
What Makes SampleSmart Stand Out
At SampleSmart, we work with an ever expanding network of high quality biospecimen providers, we take ethics and compliance seriously, and we prioritize customer needs in order to source the specific biospecimens you require.
Here are a few additional qualities that make us stand out:
1. We Have R&D Experience
Our project managers have previous R&D experience working in industry. As a result, we know how important biospecimens can be to your research, and how difficult they can be to obtain.
We are scientists at heart. We’re not here to make a quick sale. We want to make sure that you obtain the samples you need to get your research done right. Our project managers are happy to offer advice on experimental design, sample specifications, sample/subject data requirements, etc. as needed.
2. We Work Quickly
We understand the pressure you’re under to meet project deadlines. We handle every sample request with the urgency it requires, and keep you updated with our progress. Once an order has been placed with us, we do our best to ensure that the providers deliver the samples within the agreed timelines.
We want to make sure that acquiring biospecimens is not a reason for your study being delayed. Our project managers will offer advice on ways to minimize risks and reduce biospecimen acquisition timelines in order to help safeguard you from any potential issues that could arise.
3. We Get Results
Whether it’s a relatively simple request, or one that requires extensive monitoring throughout the sample acquisition process, our goal is to deliver high quality samples on time.
Our project managers have worked across all disease areas and biospecimen types. They know which biospecimen providers to contact in order to obtain the samples you need. We are constantly expanding our worldwide network of biospecimen providers in order to offer more options, reduce costs and timelines, and increase the likelihood of finding the exact samples you need.