Biorepositories can be either natural companions or integral to patient registries, and are being used to support a variety of research objectives. These data can enable longitudinal research studies to examine the biological and genetic risk factors for diseases along with the social, behavioral, and clinical factors that may be associated with the disease. For example, biospecimens collected over a research participant’s lifespan can be meaningful tools to study aging, the development of disease, or progression or recurrence of disease when the genetic and biologic information is linked with other important determinants of disease.1-3 Combining biospecimens with broader information about participant characteristics, in concert with longer term followup, may give insights into patterns that may activate or accelerate disease progress.
Biospecimens collected at a single point in time can be used to identify biomarkers related to particular diseases or exposures or to support the development of new diagnostic tests. Further, it is important to keep in mind that some biospecimens are relevant descriptors of patients that are not anchored in time.