NCT Tissue Bank accredited to ISO 20387

The Tissue Bank of the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg is the first in Germany to be accredited according to the ISO 20387 standard, which was created specifically for biobanks. This was achieved together with the affiliated lung biobank of the Thoraxklinik Heidelberg at the University Hospital of Heidelberg (UKHD) and the tissue bank of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF). The accreditation is proof of the high performance of the biobanks, which guarantee a high level of quality control and assurance and thus meet the requirements for excellent research. Dr. Alexander Brobeil is head of the NCT Tissue Bank. He says: "Accreditation according to the new biobank standard is another important milestone for us. It shows that we work to the highest quality standards and that we are continuously improving our services. We have demonstrated that researchers can rely on the quality of our samples and data." The accreditation process was supported by the German Accreditation Body (DAkkS) and the German Biobank Node (GBN). 

Strong commitment to quality

The NCT Tissue Bank collects, characterises, processes and stores human tissue samples and other biospecimens from cancer patients. It supports around 200 basic and translational research projects every year. As a partner of the BioMaterialBank Heidelberg (BMBH), the NCT Tissue Bank is one of two GBN quality management sites involved in the design and implementation of the GBN quality programme. Prof. Dr. Stefan Fröhling, Managing Director of the NCT Heidelberg and Head of the Department of Translational Medical Oncology at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), says: "We want the NCT Tissue Bank to meet the high standards of excellent research. This special accreditation, which is the first of its kind in Germany, shows that the NCT Tissue Bank fulfils this requirement in an excellent way."

Step by step to accreditation

The accreditation programme for the new biobank standard was developed by the DAkkS in close cooperation with the GBN. For the NCT Tissue Bank, the accreditation process began in 2018. The staff first identified the additional requirements of the new standard compared to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17020, to which the NCT Tissue Bank was previously accredited. The team then implemented the identified requirements, which included a user satisfaction survey. Dr. Carolin Kaufhold-Wedel, Quality Manager of the NCT Tissue Bank, says: "The accreditation was a challenging task. The team took up the challenge and did an excellent job."

After a preparatory friendly audit by the GBN, the tissue banks were assessed by DAkkS last winter and became the first biobanks in Germany to receive an accreditation certificate in April 2023. Dr. Cornelia Specht, Managing Director of the GBN, says: "We congratulate the NCT Tissue Bank and the DZIF Tissue Bank on their accreditation according to ISO 20387. We are very pleased to have supported their efforts, especially with the friendly audits, and will continue to stand by all those seeking accreditation."

Carolin Kaufhold-Wedel reported in detail on the accreditation process at the German Biobank Alliance (GBA) meeting in March 2023 – a recording of her presentation is available for GBA biobanks.

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