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Teresa Selander
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Teresa Selander

Teresa Selander
by Sophie Lily Polan


teresa selanderTeresa manages the Biospecimen Repository and Processing lab (BSR) where she has been working for the past 20 years. The BSR is dedicated to provide processing and storage of high quality research biospecimens to ensure availability for immediate and future studies.


She and her team assist principal investigators and their support staff regarding the type and amount of specimen to collect as well as determine the correct standard operating procedure (SOP) for processing and storage to meet their current and future research goals.


Upon receipt, the specimen is cataloged into the customized BioSpec specimen tracking database, processed according to the appropriate SOP and banked until it is requested for use for Research Ethics Board-approved research studies. Specimen types processed are; blood, tumour tissue, saliva, urine, DNA and RNA.


Biobank Type, Users and Longevity


The long term storage facility occupies 2,800 square feet and was designed to house 20 liquid nitrogen (LN2) vapour freezers and six -80°C mechanical freezers. Seventeen LN2 freezers are in use and store ~700,000 vials of biospecimens.  


The location of each and every vial is tracked in the BioSpec database and a quality assurance program is in place to ensure accuracy of documented storage location parameters. Teresa and her staff consider themselves to be ‘guardians’ of the stored samples; they ensure that they know where each one is and processed to the best of their ability and according to the SOP.


Since Teresa started in 1998 the BSR has gone from providing service to 2 research collections to over over 58 (large and small) research collections. More than 200,000 samples have been distributed for over 314 different studies.


Large biospecimen collections such as those of the Ontario Familial Breast Cancer Registry and the Interdisciplinary Health Research Team in Muskuloskeletal Neoplasia, which Dr. Andrulis oversees, have been ongoing since 1996 and the BSR has processed, stored and distributed blood, tumour, DNA and RNA from 7,243 and 3,603 participants respectively.   Both national and international researchers have utilized these samples over more than 2 decades.


Smaller collections such as Tideglusib, of which Dr. Woodgett is the PI, involved the collection and shipment of specimens over 2 years from 90 participants at multiple hospitals before and after drug treatment. Upon completion of collection from all participants, all samples provided to Dr. Woogett’s lab for analysis.


To date, the lab has processed >50,000 blood, >9000 saliva, >8500 Paraffin embedded tumour tissue, >7000 fresh frozen tumour tissue and >3000 urine specimens. As well, the lab has extracted >47,000 DNA samples and >3000 RNA samples. This has resulted in managing over 700,000 vials.


Because the work is repetitive (processing multiple specimens from multiple participants and generating many more vials for storage) it is extremely important to be detailed and vigilant. Teresa and her team have a huge commitment to quality and ensure they adhere to SOPs, including documenting every step of the process. Teresa’s background in Clinical Molecular Diagnostics has allowed her to apply the discipline of the clinical environment to the research environment of the BSR.


A robust quality management program is in place and in 2017 the BSR obtained certification through the Canadian Tumor Repository Network. As well the BSR participates in a proficiency testing program offered through the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL) which is endorsed by International Society for Biospecimen and Environmental Repositories (ISBER). This program is an external quality assessment tool to verify the precision and accuracy of their processing methods.


The BSR is currently working toward applying for Biobank accreditation through College of American Pathologists (CAP). This involves creating documentation to support the ongoing quality assurance systems in place which have not been fully documented and Teresa hopes to start this three year (!) process later this year.



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