Surprisingly, many biobanks don’t . . . or they rely on strategies that are incomplete and/or unfinished, plans that just won’t hold up if a worst-case scenario strikes.
And let’s be honest. Worst case scenarios –or “near worst-case scenarios” –happen more often than most of us would like to admit. A few years ago, ScienceInsider reported that heavy rain in Copenhagen caused flooding that destroyed hundreds of cell lines at the Danish Cancer Society’s Biobank. Meanwhile, others have had to deal with earthquakes, fires and even super storms.
What can you do to help ensure that you won’t have to scramble if an emergency strikes? If I had to sum up my best advice, it would be this:
- Be certain you have a comprehensive risk mitigation plan in place. Start with a well-researched threat assessment. Then, include exactly what steps you and your team will follow in case of an emergency. Review, update and “walk-through” your plan periodically.
- Duplicate critical samples. Store duplicates of critical samples in multiple locations (on- and off-site).
- Include risk management in your budget. We’ve all heard the adage “Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.” That old saying applies perfectly here. Too many biobanks neglect risk management because they “don’t have the funds for it.” Build risk management into your budget. You need resources to do the job right.
- Collaborate. Work with other biobanks worldwide. Work with agencies in your area. Build partnerships and cultivate relationships that strengthen your risk mitigation plan. In an emergency, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to go it alone.
You’ll find many more details in this earlier post, Defense in Depth: Off-Site Storage for Biological Specimens and Biopharmaceuticals Risk Mitigation.
Naturally, a good business management plan includes planning and precautions to prevent emergencies from known, controllable sources. But –as is the case with natural disasters –we can’t always foretell what the future holds. Having a comprehensive risk mitigation plan in place helps ensure the safety of your valuable biospecimens . . . and I can tell you from first-hand experience, it will help you sleep a lot better at night, too.