Evaluating biobanks’ success based on their value for research

250 attendees in Berlin for the fifth National Biobank Symposium

15 December 2016. In future, biobanks’ success should be measured not only by the number of samples they store – but on how many of those resources are leveraged for research projects. This suggestion was made by Dominic Allen, Chief Operating Officer at the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg (IBBL), during his keynote address at the beginning of the fifth German National Biobank Symposium. The event drew approximately 250 attendees to Berlin, Germany, on 7 and 8 December 2016.



A Bit of Berlin in Bethesda

Biobanking highlights in a nutshell at ISBER Regional Meeting 2016

14.11.2016. Highlights and conclusions from the ISBER Annual Meeting held in Berlin/Germany in April 2016 were summarized in a session chaired by Roman Siddiqui (TMF/Germany) and Cari Lichtman (American Cancer Society/USA) at the ISBER Regional Meeting in Bethesda/USA on November 7, 2016. This was another opportunity to present Germany’s vibrant and well-organized biobanking community.



High-quality biobanking is key to high-quality research

2016 international ISBER Annual Meeting & Exhibits, in partnership with TMF, on 5 – 8 April in Berlin

05 April 2016. Biobanks are valuable assets for leading-edge medical and environmental research. These high-quality collections of biological samples enable scientists to achieve reliable outcomes – and are the basis for successful and sustainable research. Against this background, representatives from international biobank communities are assembling at ISBER’s Annual Meeting & Exhibits conference from 5 to 8 April 2016 in Berlin – with the aim of transferring knowledge and exploring the latest biobanking ideas and developments. By international comparison, German initiatives have made significant progress in recent years. During the session on 5 April, National Biobanking Day in Germany, leading experts from the nation will present the insights gained in medical biobanking.



Today, predictive molecular testing is available for 35 per cent of all tumour types

In future, high-quality medical research will only be achieved in conjunction with biobanks

14 December 2015. “Today, we have predictive biomarkers that enable targeted therapies for 35 per cent of all tumour types. Biobanks are the basis for this achievement,” stated Professor Manfred Dietel (Charité University Hospital, Berlin) in his keynote address at the fourth National Biobank Symposium. The event took place on 9 and 10 December 2015 in the German capital. “The positive evolution of this event demonstrates the importance biobanks have gained in recent years. In future, biobanks will be key to high-quality research,” emphasised Professor Michael Krawczak (University Medical Centre, Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel Campus), who, as Chairman of the TMF Board of Directors, opened the Symposium.



New biobanking article on data sharing

Sharing and Reuse of Sensitive Data and Samples: Supporting Researchers in Identifying Ethical and Legal Requirements

15.09.2015. The article examines the complex regulatory context of data sharing and discusses relevant online tools, including the BioMedBridges Legal Assessment Tool, which was co-developed by the authors. It aims to to assist researchers working with sensitive data or biosamples with ethical and legal questions.




29.07.2015. The first version of the brand new European Catalogue of Biobanks is now online.



Template for informed consent for biobanks

Permanent Working Party of the German Medical Ethics Committees provides document in English

22.07.2015. The Permanent Working Party of the German Medical Ethics Committees provides a template for informed consent concerning the donation, storage, and utilization of biological materials as well as collecting, processing, and usage of (related) data in biobanks. The document is a translation of the German version which has been recommended by the Working Party in November 2013. The template is based on German law and ethical views.



Biobank registries in Europe struggle with similar challenges

Common goal: “Structured yellow pages of biobanks” – Incentives for biobanks to register are absolutely needed

20.02.2015. National biobank registries throughout Europe prefer to establish “structured yellow pages” in order to make their countries’ biobank resources visible. Some of them also focus on additionally establishing “sample locators” as a means to foster scientific collaboration. However, all registries face similar challenges in achieving completeness of registration. This became apparent during the meeting of the biobank registries from seven European countries on 18th and 19th February 2015 in Berlin. Incentives for registration set by the national governments could greatly facilitate the process. The participants of the meeting expressed the wish to have more communication between them at the working level.



Evidence-based research with biobanks

The third National Biobank Symposium

16 December 2014. According to Allison Hubel from the University of Minnesota, USA, keeping samples at low temperatures, providing good training for employees and monitoring processes are key to ensuring the high-quality storage of biomaterials and creating valuable, long-term resources for medical research. Quality management took centre stage on the second day of the third National Biobank Symposium, held in Berlin on 3 and 4 December 2014 and attended by 290 participants. Hubel also underlined that blood and tissue samples are composed of a mixture of liquid and solid matter that have different freezing requirements, something which has to be taken into account during storage.



Biobanking 3.0: supporting transparency, acceptance and public support

Joint meeting between TMF work groups for biobanking and science communications

9 December 2014. Transparent communications, trust and active public participation are becoming increasingly important factors for the long-term success of biobanks. The idea of increasing the involvement of external stakeholders has recently been dubbed “biobanking 3.0”. Central to this concept is the need to promote understanding of biobanking and strengthen public acceptance. Against this background, the TMF work groups for biobanking and science communications met in Berlin on 2 December 2014 to exchange their knowledge and experience. Biobank operators, researchers and communications experts pooled their ideas and made concrete proposals for effectively raising the profile of biomaterial repositories and intensifying dialogue with donors.



The third National Biobank Symposium strengthens collaboration in biobank research

290 biobank experts discuss the implementation of standards for sample quality and IT support, and explore ethical questions and public involvement

3 December 2014. The third National Biobank Symposium spotlighted practical solutions to building and operating biobanks used in medical research. Approximately 290 scientists, biobank and IT experts, and medical professionals attended the event in Berlin on 3 and 4 December 2014. Originally initiated by TMF and hosted by the German Biobank Registry, this event has now become a firm annual fixture supporting dialogue among biobank operators and users. As Professor Michael Krawczak stresses, this intensive exchange of information makes an essential contribution towards strengthening biobanks in Germany. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness of biobanks and promote their work at an international level.



"Enabling Good Medical Research Is a Highly Ethical Principle"

2nd National Biobank Symposium 2013: While ensuring that research projects are feasible and of the highest quality, protection of personal rights is absolutely essential.

December 12, 2013. Biobanks are currently regarded as the most important resource for achieving scientific progress in medicine. Biomaterials such as blood or tissue and the associated clinical data are increasingly being collected in large, long-term biobanks, where they are available for present and future research issues and analyses. Biomedical researchers and ethics specialists agree that in light of this background the hitherto acknowledged concepts of informed consent given by sample donors must be subjected to a process of further development. "It is important to be able to realize practical concordance between absolutely essential protection of the personal rights of donors of biomaterials and the indispensable and legitimate research interests of biobank users. Enabling good medical research is a highly ethical principle." That is how it was formulated by Matthias Brumhard, representative of the the ethics committee of the Department of Human Medicine at the University of Giessen, at the 2nd National Biobank Symposium, which took place in Berlin on December 11 and 12, 2013



2nd National Biobank Symposium 2013 – Call for Papers

Submissions can be made up to October 6, 2013

September 11, 2013. The National Biobank Symposium will take place for the second time in Berlin from December 11 to 12. Papers on the topic of "The Future of Biobanks in Germany: Networking, Collaboration, and Structural Development" can be submitted by October 6, 2013.



Pioneers of Disease-Oriented Population Genetics

TMF's biobanking working group visits biobanks in Iceland

July 15, 2013. Iceland is the only country in the world that is able to use high-risk genetic variants with a high likelihood of common diseases in order to actually prevent diseases. With deCODE genetics, three university biobanks and biobanks run by professional societies the country has a research infrastructure that makes it possible to exploit the opportunities arising from the special characteristics of the Icelandic population and its historical development. Both technology and research results can nevertheless be also applied to the European population, according to Icelandic biobank experts on a visit paid by the TMF biobanking working group to Reykjavik on July 8, 2013.



TMF Is a Member of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER)

Active participation on the ISBER committees and use of tools possible for TMF members

May 6, 2013. The International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) has confirmed the TMF's membership. As a result, TMF members now have an opportunity to play an active role in the working groups of ISBER, participating in conferences and meetings organized by ISBER at reduced conference rates, and taking advantage of resources made available by ISBER, the Self-Assessment Tool for biobanks for example.



A Biobank of Superlatives

Biobanking working group visits UK Biobank – samples and data are available to researchers throughout the world for analyses

July 9, 2012. About 15 million aliquots of samples from over 500,000 people are stored in the UK Biobank. They are linked to clinical data as well as detailed information on disease history and lifestyle. In particular, the members of the TMF biobanking working group, who visited UK Biobank on July 3, 2012, were highly impressed by the system of sample storage, the use of automation and robotics for sample handling, top-level sample management, and the professionalism of the project team, who succeeded in sustainably gaining the confidence of donors.