High-quality biospecimens with appropriate clinical annotation are critical in the era of personalized medicine. It is now widely recognized that biospecimen resources need to be developed and operated under established scientific, technical, business, and ethical/legal standards. To date, such standards have not been widely practiced, resulting in variable biospecimen quality that may compromise research efforts. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research (OBBR) was established in 2005 to coordinate NCI's biospecimen resource activities and address those issues that affect access to the high-quality specimens and data necessary for its research enterprises as well as the broader translational research field. OBBR and the NCI Biorepository Coordinating Committee developed NCI's "Best Practices for Biospecimen Resources" after consultation with a broad array of experts. A Biospecimen Research Network was established to fund research to develop additional evidence-based practices. Although these initiatives will improve the overall availability of high-quality specimens and data for cancer research, OBBR has been authorized to implement a national biobanking effort, cancer HUman Biobank (caHUB). caHUB will address systematically the gaps in knowledge needed to improve the state-of-the-science and strengthen the standards for human biobanking. This commentary outlines the progressive efforts by NCI in technical, governance, and economic considerations that will be important as the new caHUB enterprise is undertaken.
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