Biobanks are a key resource for unravelling the molecular basis of disease subtypes, identification of new targets for therapy and reduction of attrition in drug discovery and development. The broad spectrum of existing biobanks in Europe is considered as a specific strength of European research. Unfortunately the diversity, lack of standardisation, different rules of access of these biobanks and the differential ethical and legal landscape across Europe has prevented their effective use. Development of common IT infrastructure and sustainable funding schemes are key features for large transnational projects interlinking different national and regional biobanks. Agreement on common standards is equally important for all de novo biobanks. In 2008, the pan-European infrastructure BBMRI was established to bring cohesion to the European biobanking community and to make the existing and new high quality biological resources available for health research in Europe. Organised as a dynamic distributed hub structure, BBMRI acts as an interface between cutting edge medical research and the EU population. BBMRI is in its preparatory phase and has received €5M funding from the European Framework Programme 7. Networking and harmonisation of biobanking across Europe will increase the success of coordinated, large-scale biomarker discovery and validation; facilitate the identification of susceptibility genes and their association with environment and lifestyle factors; elucidate aetiological pathways for multi-factoral diseases and facilitate discovery of new drugs and therapies. The creation of a pan-European biobanking infrastructure will in turn allow Europe to compete at a global level thereby increasing its attractiveness for industries and world class research
‘to construct a pan-European Biobanking Research Infrastructure, building on existing infrastructures, resources and technologies, specifically complemented with innovative components and properly embedded into European ethical, legal and societal frameworks. BBMRI will contribute to increase the scientific excellence and efficacy of European research in the biomedical sciences as well as expand and secure competitiveness of European research and industry in a global context.’
Further information on BBMRI is available on the following link: http://www.bbmri.eu/
MMI is the scientific partner coordinating Irish participation in BBMRI and the HRB represents the Department of Health and Children.
The following graph highlights the member countries in the preparatory phase of BBMRI.
As the Scientific Member coordinating Ireland’s participating in BBMRI, MMI is playing an important role in BBMRI, a particular example being the contribution of MMI’s Guidelines for Standardised Biobanking which will be adopted by BBMRI to ensure harmonisation of biological materials in Europe across jurisdictions. The use of standardised protocols for sample collection, processing and storage will provide proper safeguards and assurances required for sample quality, consistency and integrity among bio-collections at different sites. This harmonisation will facilitate the global movement of biological materials across research sites and the aggregation of samples for research studies. This will expedite high quality research and reduce its costs. The benefits to Ireland from participation in BBMRI have already been significant as evidenced by the direct contribution of the leaders of BBMRI. Professors Kurt Zatloukal, Eero Vurio and Martin Yuille in sharing their expertise and international best practice as part of the Scientific Advisory Board for the design phase of GeneLibrary Ireland, an all-island control biobank (funded by HRB and the R&D Office, Belfast) the framework developed in this report would be applicable to any bio-resource infrastructure developed for Ireland.
Ireland is playing a leading role in BBMRI’s Stakeholder’s Forum. In recognition of his reputation throughout Europe as an advocate for patient focussed research, Michael Griffith of Fighting Blindness and IPPOSI was invited to be Chair of the Stakeholder Forum. Derick Mitchell, who is employed by IPPOSI, is the Executive Manager of the Forum. The Stakeholder Forum is actively collating the input and requirements of its broad stakeholder community of biobanking in Europe, comprising patients, clinicians, funding organisations, associated project partners, industry, and researchers.
For further information on the BBMRI Stakeholder Forum, please click here http://www.bbmri.eu/index.php/stakeholders-forum
BBMRI is currently creating an inventory of Europe's biobanking landscape. Biobanks which want to be part of the BBMRI infrastructure need to complete a core questionnaire which is mandatory to be registered with BBMRI. Irish biobanks can fill in BBMRI’s core questionnaire which is available at the following link to be part of the BBMRI pan-European network of biobanks.
- Inventory on existing population biobanks and clinical biobanks.
- Web-based overview catalogue, collaboration with P3G.
- Review of technical and quality criteria.
- Reports on the current state of nucleic acid and protein resources in Europe.
- Review of requirements for a general IT management system for European biobanks and strategy for interoperability.
- Web-based plateform on legal and ethical aspects.
- Initiation of a comprehensive consultation and engagement process with broad stakeholder community, comprising patients, clinicians, funding organizations, associated project partners, industry, users, but also the general public.
- Legal entity, governance structure and distributed hub concept have been established.
- The BBMRI prototype initiative, which aims to fulfil the role of proof-of principle for BBMRI and help produce an experience-based operational concept.
- The Expert Centre concept, which is a new model of a pre competitive, non profitprivate-public-partnership.
- Leveraged additional funding through FP 7 and IMI collaborative bids
BBMRI along with the other BMS Research Infrastructures has identified the ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) as the most appropriate legal entity to support the distributed operation of BBMRI and statues are validated. A headquarter that will provide a common access portal as well as several national nodes located in different Member States will be established within BBMRI-ERIC. BBMRI-ERIC is hereby established under the Council Regulation (EC) No 723/2009 of 25 June 2009 on the Community legal framework for an ERIC. The ERIC is set up to sustainably establish and operate, on a non-economic basis, the pan-European research infrastructure “Biobanking and BioMolecular Research Infrastructure, European Research Infrastructure Consortium” (BBMRI-ERIC).
The focus for BBMRI over the coming months will be to complete the required documentation including, Statutes, Technical Annexes, budgets and application submission for achievement of the ERIC status and to secure membership of BBMRI-ERIC by Member States.
MMI Position Paper on Ireland's continued participation in European research infrastructures for biobanking and clinical research
MMI has agreed a position paper recommending that Ireland commits to full membership of the ERICS for both BBMRI and the European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN). To access this paper please click here