Biobanking Conversations #1 with Irmi Feldman (Univ of California)

Your Name:

My name is Irmi Feldman.

Explain your role in brief:

I have been managing the University of California (Davis) Pathology Biorepository for the past 12 years. We have been using OpenSpecimen since June 2018. I am the super administrator for OpenSpecimen for the UC Davis application. I am thrilled by the high degree of configurability of the system.

What types of entities do you provide biobanking services to and what is the mix?

We provide specimens to Cancer Center members, UC Davis and Non-UC Davis researchers, histology support for clinical trials as well as de-identified specimens for researchers, specimen collection and storage for various departments at UC Davis.

How did you get into biobanking?

In 2008, I joined as the only Clinical Research Coordinator for the pathology biorepository. I take care of all aspects of the biorepository, including specimen collection, IRB and regulatory matters, patient consent, data entry, quality management, etc. Since I was responsible for all aspects, I learned everything about biobanking. I was – and still am – very busy, but that’s how I like it.

Are you banking any COVID specimens?

We are collecting remnant samples from COVID-19 positive patients. For this, we created a customized collection protocol in OpenSpecimen. These banked COVID-19 specimens provide a great resource for the research community trying to find a vaccine.

What’s your typical day?

First thing every morning, I post the ‘biorepository wish-list’ in pathology for specimens we would like to collect that day; answer emails, collect specimens, work on ongoing projects, including OpenSpecimen projects, run queries, keep up with CAP requirements/quality management / monthly audits, meetings (now online) with researchers to discuss their projects, review / create policies & procedures, quality control, patient consent, and deal with any matter that comes along during the day.

The most challenging thing you’ve done in your career so far:

Prepare the biorepository for CAP (College of American Pathologists) accreditation. I had to write 250+ policies & procedures from scratch, develop a quality management program, chemical safety plan, employee training programs (initial and competency assessment), and the various other items necessary for the accreditation application in addition to the daily management of the biorepository. Needless to say that it took me many weeks and months including weekends to accomplish this. We received CAP accreditation in Jan 2015.

A website you’d recommend to everyone in biobanking:

Society of Clinical Research Associates; ISBER

A tool, habit, or hack that makes you very productive

The more standardized and reproducible your workflows are, the better the quality of your specimens.

A ‘mantra’ that you would like to give to a younger version of you:

Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead of you; breathe, and work your way through one item at a time. It will all get done!

What according to you is an ideal break to get away from the busy schedule of biobank?

Go out in nature – even if it’s only for a few hours, read a book.

For more biobanking conversations click here.

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