6 March 2008
The European Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure was officially launched at a meeting held at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Center in Cambridge from 10-12 February 2008. This ‘European Biobank’ is intended to form a central computerised system linking the records of biological samples held in different research centres and biobanks across Europe; it has been established with 5 million Euros in funding from the EU [Stafford N. BMJ 2008 Mar 1;336(7642):467].
Its aim is to facilitate pan-European research into “the association between disease subtypes and small, but systematic, variations in genotype, phenotype, and lifestyle”, which requires the study of suitably documented epidemiological, clinical and biological information and material from large numbers of individuals. It is anticipated that researchers from both public and private centres will use the resource, which seeks to have an infrastructure and legal system in place by 2010. Partners include biobanks from Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Estonia and the UK, including the UK Biobank, the UK DNA Banking Network and Generation Scotland, as well as European groups such as the European prospective study of nutrition and cancer (EPIC) and the European Research Council.
The venture is distinct from the EuroBioBank, an operating network of European biobanks from France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and Malta, which provides human DNA, cell and tissue samples for research into rare diseases. EuroBioBank is coordinated by Eurordis (European Organisation for Rare Diseases) and receives some EC funding, although individual biobanks within the network are financed by their own national or charitable bodies.