Table 1

Designation Definition
BIOSPECIMEN A quantity of tissue, blood, urine, or other human-derived material. A biospecimen can comprise subcellular structures, cells, tissue (e.g. bone, muscle, connective tissue, and skin), organs (e.g., liver, bladder, heart, and kidney), blood, gametes (sperm and ova), embryos, fetal tissue, and waste (urine, feces, sweat, hair and nail clippings, shed epithelial cells, and placenta). Portions or aliquots of a biospecimen are referred to as samples (NCI* Best Practices working definition).
ANNOTATION Database information designed to capture experimental or inferential results. Often referring to annotation of sequence data. Experimental annotation is supported by peer-reviewed wet-lab experimental evidence. Inferential annotation of sequence data is by inference (where the source molecule or its product(s) have not been the subject of direct experimentation) (from NCBI third party Annotation database).
DATABASE An organized set of data or collection of files that can be used for a specified purpose (definition from A dictionary of Epidemiology 4thEd. by J.M. Last).
BIOREPOSITORY An organization, place, room, or container (a physical entity) where biospecimens are stored (NCI* Best Practices working definition).
BIOLOGICAL RESOURCE CENTRES Service providers and repositories of the living cells, genomes of organisms, and information relating to heredity and the functions of biological systems. BRCs contain collections of culturable organisms (e.g. genomes, plasmids, viruses, cDNAs), viable but not yet culturable organisms cells and tissues, as well as databases containing molecular, physiological and structural information relevant to these collections and related bioinformatics… (from OECD*** Best Practise Guidelines for BRCs, 2007).
BIOBANK A collection of biological material and the associated data and information stored in an organised system, for a population or a large subset of a population (OECD** Glossary of statistical terms).
BIOSPECIMEN RESOURCE A collection of human specimens and associated data for research purposes, the physical entity in which the collection is stored, and all associated processes and policies. Biospecimen resources vary considerably, ranging from formal institutions to informal collections in a researcher’s freezer (NCI Best Practices working definition).
BIORESOURCES Biological samples with associated data (medical/epidemiological, social), databases independent of physical samples and other biomolecular and bioinformatics research tools (BRIF group working definition).

*From National Cancer Institute Best Practices for Biospecimen Resources.

** National Center for Biotechnology Information.

***Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Mabile et al.

Mabile et al. GigaScience 2013 2:7   doi:10.1186/2047-217X-2-7

Open Data