New European and US biobanking initiatives

6 November 2009

A new national biobanking initiative is to be established after the Dutch government awarded €22.5m funding for the Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Infrastructure Netherlands (BBMRI-NL), a network including several academic and other research bodies. The initiative is intended to integrate and enrich existing clinical data and samples to make them more accessible for researchers. Professor Gertjan van Ommen of Leiden University Medical Centre said: “The existing materials are often of high value and quality but underused because of fragmentation” (see eHealthEurope news).

Once established, the initiative will presumably link in with larger networks that seek to connect European biobanks, particularly the European BBMRI, Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure (see previous news) or the EuroBiobank. The Netherlands is also reportedly competing with Austria and Luxembourg to host the BBMRI itself, which will enjoy special legal status and tax benefits (see EurActive news). Luxembourg is partnering with the US Translational Genomics Research Institute to form the Integrated Biobank Luxembourg (IBBL), a biomedical hub focusing on diagnostic biomarkers. 

Meanwhile in the US, the Kaiser Permanente biobank (see previous news) is partnering with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to collate and analyse genetic and clinical data from 100,000 older Americans, with an average age of 65 (see Technology Review article). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded $24.8 million over two years for this new study into the genetic and environmental factors influencing health and ageing. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) which was behind the grant said: “We are very excited about the opportunity to develop this extraordinary database in an older population, to facilitate studies of gene-environment interaction as determinants of health, disease, and longevity” (see press release).

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