Survey of Biobanks 2014


In August 2014 the ABNA conducted its second annual survey of its membership biobanks around Australasia. The survey was delivered electronically to the full member list of the ABNA. The ongoing aim of this survey is to provide snapshots in time of the biobanking ‘landscape’ across the country. ABNA will repeat the survey annually to provide data on the impact of the changing funding situation with the retraction of infrastructure funding from the NH&MRC.
Participation in the survey as always was voluntary. The participation rate for 2014 increased by 45% (from 11 to 20) from 2013. Of the 20 responding biobanks 35% were first time respondents, with the remaining 65% repeating respondents from the 2013 survey (with 100% of our survey respondents from 2013 repeating the survey for 2014). This is a very positive outcome, as a high return rate is imperative for an ongoing reflection of the changes in funding and direction of these banks. As with 2013 the majority of new survey respondents (five out of the six) are involved in the banking of oncology biospecimens, with 1 of these banks focussing on paediatric cancers. The responding biobanks encompass a broad range of biorepositories with varying degrees of establishment. A majority were established in the 10 years prior to the survey (50%), with a further 43.75% founded between 10-20 years prior to the survey and the remainder in excess of 20 years old (6.25%). The oldest bank was established as early as 1988 with the most recently established banks commencing collection in the 2011-2014 period.

Graph 1 illustrates the breakdown of funding sources of all 20 of the responding biobanks for 2013, as well as
Comparatives for 2012


*‘Other’ includes National Breast Cancer Foundation, Parkinson’s Victoria, Leukaemia Foundation, and Prostate Cancer Foundation

The business model across these biobanks varies greatly but a common denominator for each of the 20 responding biobanks is that all were supported in-kind by their respective host institutions through provision of things such as floor space, utilities and staff support infrastructure such as Human Resources, Payroll, Occupational Health & Safety services, etc. In addition, 16 of the 20 responding biobanks (80%) were supported by in kind pathology services.
We have been provided with total operational budgets for all of the 20 biobanks for the 2013 Calendar year. The range of operating budgets varies greatly, with the lowest bracket of expenditure between 0-50 K and the highest at 500K+ per annum.

Graph 2 illustrates the breakdown of the operating budgets for all 20 of the responding biobanks for 2013, as well as comparatives for 2012

biobank operationfunding2013

Cost recovery fees were levied by 50% of the respondents. This is in contrast to 2013 figures which show that 75% of responding biobanks were using some degree of cost recovery. Cost recovery income over the 2014 calendar year varies from $0 to $100,000+. The majority (70%) of banks report income of less than $20,000 from this mechanism for the period. This is also a significant decrease from figures last year where 70% of banks were recovering in the range of up to $50,000.
It is interesting to note that even at the highest recovery rate bracket ($100,000+) this income represents only 20% of the total operating costs for that biobank for the 2013 Calendar year.
Cost recovery rates as a percentage of total operational costs vary from 0% to 35% with an average cost recovery of 4.7%. From these figures it is clear that this income must be supplemented by various other sources for every example. This trend is expected to continue for the 2014 Calendar year, with forward estimates indicating that only 60 % (12/20) of respondents expect to recover at all in that period pending successful project grant funding applications. The highest expected for this period is listed in the 100K+ range
The survey will be re-issued mid-2015. Although surveys are not identified, it is possible to correlate data from biobanks that have participated in previous surveys. As a result of question refinement (to reduce the number of free text answers experienced in the 2013 survey), there have been some limitations to the comparisons that may be drawn between 2013 and 2014 surveys. This will diminish over time with standardized questions allowing for more direct comparatives.