To share or not to share? A survey of biomedical researchers in the U.S. Southwest, an ethnically diverse region

Mai H. Oushy, Rebecca Palacios, Alan E.C. Holden, Amelie G. Ramirez, Kipling J. Gallion, Mary A. O'Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background Cancer health disparities research depends on access to biospecimens from diverse racial/ ethnic populations. This multimethodological study, using mixed methods for quantitative and qualitative analysis of survey results, assessed barriers, concerns, and practices for sharing biospecimens/data among researchers working with biospecimens from minority populations in a 5 state region of the United States (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas). The ultimate goals of this research were to understand data sharing barriers among biomedical researchers; guide strategies to increase participation in biospecimen research; and strengthen collaborative opportunities among researchers. Methods and Population Email invitations to anonymous participants (n = 605 individuals identified by the NIH RePORT database), resulted in 112 responses. The survey assessed demographics, specimen collection data, and attitudes about virtual biorepositories. Respondents were primarily principal investigators at PhD granting institutions (91.1%) conducting basic (62.3%) research; most were non-Hispanic White (63.4%) and men (60.6%). The low response rate limited the statistical power of the analyses, further the number of respondents for each survey question was variable. Results Findings from this study identified barriers to biospecimen research, including lack of access to sufficient biospecimens, and limited availability of diverse tissue samples. Many of these barriers can be attributed to poor annotation of biospecimens, and researchers' unwillingness to share existing collections. Addressing these barriers to accessing biospecimens is essential to combating cancer in general and cancer health disparities in particular. This study confirmed researchers' willingness to participate in a virtual biorepository (n = 50 respondents agreed). However, researchers in this region listed clear specifications for establishing and using such a biorepository: specifications related to standardized procedures, funding, and protections of human subjects and intellectual property. The results help guide strategies to increase data sharing behaviors and to increase participation of researchers with multiethnic biospecimen collections in collaborative research endeavors Conclusions Data sharing by researchers is essential to leveraging knowledge and resources needed for the advancement of research on cancer health disparities. Although U.S. funding entities have guidelines for data and resource sharing, future efforts should address researcher preferences in order to promote collaboration to address cancer health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0138239
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 17 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'To share or not to share? A survey of biomedical researchers in the U.S. Southwest, an ethnically diverse region'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this