A European Survey on Biobanks: Trends and Issues
Journal article, 2011

Biobanks have recently gained great significance for research and personalised medicine, being recognised as a crucial infrastructure. At the same time, the widely varied practices in biobanking may also pose a barrier to cross-border research and collaboration by limiting access to samples and data. Nevertheless, the extent of the actual activities and the impact of the level of networking and harmonisation have not been fully assessed. To address these issues and to obtain missing knowledge on the extent of biobanking in Europe, the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, in collaboration with the European Science and Technology Observatory (ESTO), conducted a survey among European biobanks. In total, 126 biobanks from 23 countries responded to the survey. Most of them are small or medium-sized public collections set up either for population-based or disease-specific research purposes. The survey indicated a limited networking among the infrastructures. The large majority of them are stand-alone collections and only about half indicated to have a policy for cross-border sharing of samples. Yet, scientific collaborations based on the use of each biobank appear to be prominent. Significant variability was found in terms of consent requirements and related procedures as well as for privacy and data protection issues among the biobanks surveyed. To help promote networking of biobanks and thus maximise public health benefits, at least some degree of harmonisation should be achieved.

Data collection



Sample storage

Sample sharing

human genome epidemiology









E. Zika

European Research Council (ERC)

Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Commission

D. Paci

Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Commission

A. Braun

VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH

S. Rijkers-Defrasne

VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH

M. Deschenes

Public Population Project in Genomics (P3G)

I. Fortier

Public Population Project in Genomics (P3G)

Jens Laage-Hellman

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Industrial Marketing

C. A. Scerri

Malta Council for Science and Technology

D. Ibarreta

Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Commission

Public health genomics

1662-4246 (ISSN) 1662-8063 (eISSN)

Vol. 14 2 96-103

Subject Categories

Industrial Biotechnology



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