BiSC at the PRBB Open Day

Last Saturday, October 7, was the Open Day at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) and the BiSC project had its stand at the John Snow room (the name refers to the father of epidemiology, not the protagonist of the Game of Thrones). It was a unique opportunity to publicize the project and it was very interesting to see how the visitors ranged from curious people to science professionals, such as biologists or statisticians. There even were groups of high school students.

The talk was focused on explaining, in a generic way, how a cohort works and what role a laboratory technician plays in all of this. As you well know, the BiSC cohort is made up of 1080 mothers and 1033 children. Apart from the different questionnaires on mental health and nutrition, various biological samples (from the mother, the father or the child) have been collected at different points in time. In fact, the BiSC cohort is represented with approximately 70,000 samples (and we are still collecting more! You can find more information in the article The BiSC biobank stores more than 68,000 aliquots of biological samples).

It was also explained that, on many occasions, at the PRBB we do not have the necessary tools to carry out specific analyzes and that is why these are sent to specific centers. For example, for the genotyping of the cohort, the samples were sent to CEGEN (Madrid), bacterial DNA extraction from the feces of 6 and 18 months to the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA)-CSIC (Valencia), the study of Black Carbon to the University of Hasselt and the study of antibiotic resistance to Hospital Clínic, among others. In this regard, although BISC has its own lines of research, it is open to collaborating with other research groups as long as there is coherence with the objective of the project. Therefore, in some way, we could imagine the volume of project samples as a “market” in which any research group can contact us and consider using some of our samples for their study. The proposal is evaluated internally and, if approved, the legal procedures for its transfer begin.

The role that the laboratory technician plays in this mechanism is to organize and manage the samples. This involves making a proposal for selecting the samples, pre-processing them (if necessary), preparing them in 9×9 boxes and sending them in the appropriate conditions so that they arrive in good condition (dry ice is used, at -80ºC). In addition, he makes sure that everything is recorded: what volume has been used, what samples have been sent, where and for what purpose. And, as you might expect, managing 70,000 samples requires a lot of organization! Many of the visitors were surprised to hear the volume of samples that represent the cohort. Well, with a good inventory everything looks much easier.

I take this opportunity to thank the BISC participants for their collaboration and dedication to the project, and all the visitors who attended the Open Day. It was a pleasure to share some of my work with you!

This news has been written by Álvaro Falcón, laboratory technician of the BiSC Project.