Gert-Jan B van Ommen, Department of Human Genetics, Leiden University Medical Center NL, Director, NGI Center for Medical Systems Biology and BBMRI-NL biobanking infrastructure.
Biobanks are a key resource in unravelling the association between genetic background, life style and environmental risk factors for various diseases and their trait components.
Throughout Europe, and worldwide as well, major activity has started to connect the dispersed arena of existing and newly established population and clinical biobanks. In Europe, this initiative, BBMRI for Biobanking and BioMedical Resources Research Infrastructure, has just completed its “preparatory phase” led by Kurt Zatloukal (Graz), involves ca 50 participants and 200 associated participants, and is in the process of establish a legal European entity, BBMRI-ERIC. BBMRI aims to improve biobank accessibility and interoperability by harmonising similar biobanks in different locations, enriching the genotypic and phenotypic informational content and wherever possible achieve a more even ethical framework. This will greatly facilitate the development of public-private partnerships in merging molecular research and epidemiology, a prerequisite to improve future medicine. In many European countries national BBMRI's have emerged, often funded by the national governments. Examples will be given of the programme to develop research-based infrastructure improvement by initiating and enhancing joint research.
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