First in Europe to pass QBRS

WCB Lab Technician first in Europe to pass the Qualification in Biorepository Science exam.

Non Williams has worked in laboratories of the Wales Cancer Biobank (based in Cardiff University) for the last two years and in July 2021 she became the first person in Europe to pass the new Qualification in Biorepository Science (QBRS) exam. The qualification was jointly developed by ISBER* and ASCP BOC+ to meet the increasing demand for biobank and biospecimen related education to help to professionalise a biobank’s workforce and improve standards. Working together the two organisations developed the qualification which was first offered in 2020 and is open to candidates around the world.

Non took the online exam after a period of self-study using the recommended reading resources on the ASCP website. Non commented that ‘it was great to have an exam for individuals to gain recognition for their skills and competencies as biobankers’ and that ‘the ability to study at home and do the exam online really helped with fitting in around daily work commitments’.

Dr Alison Parry-Jones, Operations Director of WCB said, ‘We are very proud that Non is the first candidate in the UK and Europe to pass the exam. It is very important for WCB to support professional training – hopefully she is the first of many of our staff who will go on to take the qualification. The Wales Cancer Biobank strives to provide a quality service to researchers and well qualified biorepository professionals are central to this aim to support the advancement of biomedicine and biospecimen-based science’.

For more information on the qualification, eligibility criteria and to access the reading list, go to: or

*The International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) is the leading global society promoting and focusing on Quality in Biobanking, with the mission to ‘Advance the expertise and quality of biorepositories and biobanking science worldwide’.

+The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) is the world’s largest professional membership organisation for pathologists and laboratory professionals. The Board of Certification (ASCP BOC) provides excellence in global medical laboratory professional certification.

Biobank of the Year

Wales Cancer Biobank named as the 2020 UK Biobank of the Year award winner.

The Wales Cancer Biobank was named as the 2020 UK Biobank of the Year by the UKCRC Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre at their annual Biobanking Showcase event.

The Wales Cancer Biobank was named as the 2020 UK Biobank of the Year by the UKCRC Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre at their annual Biobanking Showcase event.  This year’s Showcase event was held across five afternoons and included some innovative breakout sessions to stimulate remote conversation.

In accepting the award certificate from Gary Rooksby from Achiever Medical (sponsor), Dr Alison Parry-Jones (WCB Operations Director) commented, ‘The Wales Cancer Biobank is proud to receive this award and thanks the sponsor, panel and the UKCRC TDCC.  This is for the wonderful team we have at WCB – it has been a challenging year, not only because of COVID and lockdown but we were applying for continuation of funding and we had a large internal (routine) audit followed by an HTA inspection in January.  The staff were magnificent, pitching in to help with activities not in their job description – we managed to audit 7,000 consents in three months in preparation for the audit and inspection.  COVID and lockdown has given us challenges, as it has many other biobanks, but we are now back up and running and supplying samples again to researchers.  Hopefully the next 12 months will be a little quieter!’

Feedback from the awarding panel:

‘The panel were particularly impressed with the application from the Wales Cancer Biobank as it demonstrated a strong performance across many of the criteria for the award.  In particular the panel would like to single out this biobank’s agility in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite being primarily a cancer biobank. They felt that this showed a proactive quality which underpins their service. They were also impressed with the biobank’s patient and public involvement activities.  The panel commends the biobank for the overall quality of their resource.’