gloved lab worker holds blue rack of labeled biological samples in front of open fridge containing racks of specimens and other lab fluids

Essential Software Considerations for Tracking Biological Samples

Selecting the right biological sample tracking software is a complex task. It needs to be easy to use, have functionality for the different roles in your lab, be a safe home for vital data and records, and be well supported with regular updates. With many options available, it can be challenging to discern which features align with your sample tracking needs. This post outlines the essential features to evaluate in each application you consider for biological sample management.


Contents: Tracking Samples | Capturing Information | Data Security


Tracking Biological Samples

The software you choose for tracking biological samples should be designed to do just that, and do it well. Upgrading from paper or Excel and not sure what that might look like? You’ll want an application that can capture the full chain of custody and track the complete sample life cycle in the lab.

Tracking the Full Sample Lifecycle: 

One of the fundamental features of effective biological sample tracking software is the ability to monitor the complete lifecycle of each sample. Choose the software that ensures critical records are being kept from the moment a sample is collected to its eventual disposal or archival. This includes tracking changes in the sample’s location, the creation of aliquots for specific experiments, usage, shipment to other research facilities, and its discard or storage for future use. 

Chain of Custody: 

Biological sample tracking software should offer comprehensive audit trails, ready to provide a detailed history of events for each sample. While evaluating audit capabilities, ask yourself if you get answers to who, what, when, and where. This means who conducted actions, what actions were taken, when they occurred, and where they happened. 


Capturing Biological Sample Information

Capturing sample metadata is another important feature of biological sample tracking software. A good software choice will allow you to specify information related to the source, sample type, storage, collection, expiration dates and other metadata. For efficiency, barcode labeling and scanning capabilities should also be included. 

Source and Storage Information: 

Biological sample tracking software should enable you to capture crucial details about each sample’s origin, whether the source is a direct donor or a sample supplier. Biological sample storage conditions, usage details and the history of storage locations are also important. Combining these details with the history of processing and experimentation the samples have taken part in give you a holistic view of the journey a sample has taken, useful for qualifying or disqualifying samples for different study parameters.


Capturing sample metadata in easily accessible software is a game-changer for enhancing lab efficiency and ensuring the data integrity of your samples. Vital metadata may include information like the donor’s age, species, gender, medical history, collection date, and specific sample attributes, such as concentration, purity, and storage conditions. Look for biological sample tracking features that can capture this metadata.

Barcoding Options: 

Efficiency is often crucial in a biological laboratory setting, and barcoding options within your choice of sample tracking software can help ensure processing times are at a minimum when temperature stability matters. Barcode integration allows for your samples to be clearly identified and found when conducting work with a lab inventory


System Compliance and Data Security

For labs dealing with federal regulations, you may need to pay attention to the security and compliance features offered by the sample tracking systems you are evaluating. 

HIPAA Compliance, Data Access and Permissions:

For laboratories dealing with patient data, HIPAA compliance options are essential features. Biological sample tracking software should offer robust data protection functionality to ensure that patient information remains confidential and secure. Data access control is vital in maintaining the security and integrity of research data, even without HIPAA regulations. Look for options that grant specific permissions to different roles, limiting access to sensitive information.

Compliance Audit Support: 

Look for audit trail export options to ensure you can quickly compile the necessary information when an audit request arises, instead of scrambling to pull information together from various sources.


In the dynamic world of biological research, robust sample tracking software isn’t just convenient, it’s indispensable. Adopting the right program safeguards research integrity, optimizes lab workflows, and secures sensitive data, enhancing the reliability and credibility of scientific breakthroughs.

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