Biobank networking for dissemination of data and resources: an overview
Karen Meir,1 Yehudit Cohen,2 Blanaid Mee,3 Eoin Fintan Gaffney4
1Department of Pathology, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, 2Sheba Institutional Tissue Banks, Sheba Medical Center, Ramat Gan, and Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel; 3Department of Histopathology, St James's Hospital, 4Biobank Ireland Trust, Dublin, Ireland
Abstract: In response to the increasing global demand for high quality biospecimens and data for biomedical research, biobanking is rapidly gaining popularity as an efficient and user-friendly platform for translational research. The advent of increasingly sophisticated technologies for specimen and data analysis, in the face of growing economic pressures, are converging to encourage consolidation, centralization, and harmonization of biobanks into networks. Several types of biobank networks exist worldwide. Individuals involved in network establishment and day-to-day function hail from varying disciplines, including health care, academia, information technology, and the pharmaceutical industry. However, they may work together within and between networks to enhance the rapid progression of patient/donor-centered research through standardization of procedures and robust quality management systems. Regularly updated standards, policies, and guidelines are published by large biobanking organizations and made available to biobankers and those interested in biospecimen science. A biobank network's ability to reliably disseminate specimens and data depends on a variety of factors, including a well stocked inventory, a robust information technology platform, and adequate support, including the goodwill of collectors who supply specimens, and of end-users who return experimental data to the network. High quality experimental data may be recycled, thus accelerating biomarker discovery. Access to large amounts of personal data, however, carries risk, and ethical issues surrounding data protection are of paramount importance. All biobank networks require data security measures in keeping with local ethical and legal requirements. Return of results to individual donors is another emerging ethical and administrative challenge for biobank networks as technology steadily increases the overlap between research and patient care. Finally, as the bioresource impact factor concept is further developed, and as more scientific journals require biospecimen and source details in submitted manuscripts, biobank networks will be securely established as an essential platform for biomedical research.
Keywords: biobank, networking, data, resources, dissemination
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