UCL-RFH Biobank Facility

Costings-Royal Free BioBank

The Biobank's services are provided on a cost recovery basis. The Biobank provides a flexible approach to banking and allow the User to pick and chose their services they require to fit their requirements, this includes kit preparation, sample collection/receipt, sample processing (including fluid separation, cryopreservation, RNA and DNA extraction), quality control of samples, sample logging, samples storage and sample dispatch.

The cost of using UCL-RFH BioBank will therefore, depend on the level of service required. For example: 

Options for getting samples to and from BioBank

  • Researcher to arrange delivery -Courier
  • Researcher to arrange delivery -Post
  • Researcher to deliver sample
  • Biobank to retrieve specimen
  • Samples to be collected via CRF
  • Other, please specify

Derivatives to be Collected

  • Whole Blood
  • Serum
  • Cells
  • Tissue
  • DNA
  • Urine
  • RNA
  • Plasma

Processing required (by biobank or by researcher):

 1) Storage only, already separated: -80oC and/or -135oC
 2) Fluid Separation and storage: Plasma and/or Serum
 3) Cell pellet storage
 4) Extraction and storage: RNA and/or DNA
 5) Solid tissue cryopreservation and storage
 6) Peripheral Blood – MNC sep and storage
 7) Other

Study size

  • 50  - 500 subjects

Number of samples and frequency

  • 100 -  1500 sampling events (2 - 6 sampling events per subject)

Number of aliquots per study

  • 2800 - 18,000 aliquots

Data to be capture during the collection period

  • Clinical details
  • Clinical diagnosis
  • Processing results

If you are interested in obtaining costings for a potential study or transfer of samples to the Royal Free BioBank, please email uclrfhbiobank@ucl.ac.uk


The physical repository was established in Nov 2009 and is located within the Royal Free London NHS Trust, London UK. The UCL-RFH Biobank provides a biorepository facility to user groups on a cost-recovery model. Types of biospecimens include Serum, Plasma, Cells, Tissue, DNA, Urine etc.  In particular, samples considered 'relevant material', such as tissues and cells, which are licensed by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), can be stored long term. Existing holdings where appropriate can be transferred to the BioBank at the Royal Free Campus.

The physical repository has a planned onsite capacity of 1 million samples. Samples can be stored at -80’C in mechanical freezers or -180’C in vapour phase liquid nitrogen, in either 1ml or 2ml cryotubes. 

The Biobank is licenced by the HTA (substantive licence No. 11016) and is a satellite site of the clinical transplant laboratory (Centre for Cell, Gene and Tissue Therapeutics) based at the Royal Free Hospital.

Over the past 5 years, the demand for the biobank’s facility has increase exponentially, increasing between 50%-100% year on year. The biobank currently provides biorepository facilities to 46 user groups who collectively have stored 200,000 aliquots.



Sample Custodian

The UCL-RFH BioBank is unique in that depositors will remain the “owner” of the tissues which they deposit (either physically or “virtually”). Other large tissue banks offer to hold tissues but also establish ownership. Thus researchers and clinicians who have gone to the trouble of obtaining clinical samples for research will not lose control of them and will be more willing to deposit samples.

Dedicated Staff

The Biobank has six members of staff dedicated to the biobanking facility, the biobank can help at all stages of sample/data collection, storage and release.

Large Scale Biobanking Infrasturcture

  • 24/7 equipment monitoring/alarm & dedicated on-call staff for alarm response
  • Back up storage tanks at working temperatures is case of equipment failure
  • Emergency Backup electrical supply
  • Enterprise level computer system with off-site backup
  • Fully Maintained Equipment protected by yearly service maintenance contracts

Tutela Alarm System -24/7 alarm monitoring


Storage facility with built in Redundancy 


Enterprise Level Computer Systems


Research Tissue Bank 

The UCL-RFH BioBank has been awarded national ethical approval as a Research Tissue Bank which will allow it to provide its own ethical approval for research on the tissues it holds without recourse to the national ethics application system. This allows much greater flexibility in the research process and reduces the paperwork associated with performing ethically-approved research within UCL.

UCL-RFH BioBank Information Systems 

The Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) at the UCL-RFH Biobank plays a critical role in the operations of the biobank, including sample tracking, processing, storage, sample release and data capture.

The LIMS at the UCL Biobank is based on the Labvantage LIMS platform which has been customised by the in-house expert for the biobank’s workflows. The Labvantage LIMS platform used at the biobank is from Labvantage Solution, Inc., who have 34 years of expertise in the LIMS market, variations of LIMS is in use across many sectors including pharmaceutical, biotech, academic & research and government.  

The web browser accessible LIMS application allows the biobank to tracking over 200,000 aliquots (sample count as of Dec 2015) in storage at the biobank with ease. Each aliquot is labelled with a 2D barcoded label containing a unique identification code,(International Society of Blood transfusion coding,  ISBT 128) ensuring each and every aliquot can be tracked back to the original source tube and  the participant. The LIMS has allowed the biobank’s workload to grow exponentially, in the last 3 years, year on year grow has been between 50-100% of the previous year. To date, the biobank has provided biorepository facilities to 46 user groups belonging to academic groups, CROs and Biotech companies.

Support is covered by service maintenance contracts with Labvantage Solutions for the application and UCL IT infrastructure, AISC for the support and maintenance of the virtual machines which host the application. Full contingency and disaster recovery plans are in place to ensure business continuity.

Below are a few user interface screenshots of the Labvantage web browser accessible application.

Intuitive User Interface


Sample Home Page


Aliquoting of Derivative aliquots


Storage Space Allocation


Full Audit History