What is a Biorepository?

Human Tissue Sample Freezer

A biorepository is a laboratory facility devoted to the processing and storing of human tissue samples as well as other animal samples for use by third party research institutions. The purpose of a biorepository is to maintain the biological samples and their related information for future use in research. They assure the quality of the specimens and manage the distribution and accessibility of the samples in its inventory.

There are four main operations that a biorepository conducts: collection, processing, storage, and distribution of human tissue samples (or other animals depending on the facility). 

The 4 Primary Functions of a Biorepository


Collection is the process of recording the arrival of the sample at the lab. The most common way this is done in modern day is by scanning a barcode. The information contained within the barcode is imported into the facility's computer data system, called an "LIMS" (Laboratory Information Management System). This data might include the origin of the sample and the arrival time. 


The processing of samples is conducted with the intention of facilitating the samples for long term storage. It is usually done in the same way each time to reduce variation amongst human tissue samples.

storage and inventory

Laboratories store all samples until they are requested by researchers and other consumers. The samples are held in boxes that are stored in various types of freezers that differ from sample to sample.


Distribution is the process of retrieving samples from the biorepository inventory system once it has been purchased.