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Online Course

Biospecimen Research Methods

The University of British Columbia via edX


This biology and life sciences course will enable you to collect, recognize and utilize a quality human biospecimen. The success of your research depends on the quality of the biospecimens you use. Get ahead of the competition, increase your chances of being published in high impact journals, and open doors to opportunities for working in leading biomedical research laboratories or biobanks.

Over 6 weeks, professionals with extensive experience in biobanking from the University of British Columbia and the BC Cancer will teach you the international best practices for biobanking and research involving human biospecimens, based on National Cancer Institute (NCI) and International Society of Biological Environmental Repositories standards (ISBER).


Week 1: Overview of Biospecimen Research
This week covers the fundamentals around biospecimen collection, including defining biospecimens, biobanks, biobanking and the key issues to consider when planning your research study using biospecimens.

Week 2: Biospecimens Collection and Processing
This week covers the different types of biospecimens commonly collected for research and the procedures involved in biospecimen collection and processing, including how to choose the best processing and preservation format for your research application.

Week 3: Biospecimen Storage and Distribution, Facility Design, and Safety
This week covers the biospecimens storage options, facility requirements and proper procedures for storing different types of biospecimens.

Week 4: Data Systems and Records Management
This week covers the standard processes for the collection, access and retention of biospecimen data.

Week 5: Ethics, Privacy and Informed Consent
This week covers the ethics and privacy concerns using biospecimens and personal health-related information. Detailed instructions on how informed consent is conducted is also covered.

Week 6: Final Exam and Conclusion
The final exam and conclusion of the course.

Taught by

Dr. Peter Watson, Lise Matzke, Sheila O'Donoghue and Stefanie Cheah

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