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Over 14 million euros for funding the networking of German biobanks

Conservation and storage of biomaterials in a biobank. (Image:Thomas Martin Pieruschek, GBN)

Medical IT experts at FAU involved in nationwide project

As of 1 May 2017, eleven German biobank sites will be joining forces in the German Biobank Alliance (GBA), paving the way for a national and Europe-wide exchange of data and bio-samples between biobanks. The Chair of Medical Informatics at FAU is one of the IT centres of expertise participating in the network. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the biobank alliance until 2020 with 14.4 million euros.

‘Networked, state-of-the-art biobanks play an essential role in developing innovative diagnostic techniques and therapies for the treatment of patients,’ explains GBA co-ordinator Prof. Dr. Michael Hummel. Biobanks collect and store blood, tissues and other bodily material, and make them available to the biomedical research community. As a result, important sample and data archives are created for the study of diseases.

Biobanks are an essential platform for biomedical research

‘To enable researchers in future to search biobanks for samples and data and build cross-biobank collections for research projects, the IT structures used by biobanks need to be standardised,’ explains Prof. Dr. Hans-Ulrich Prokosch of the Chair of Medical Informatics and Director of the IT Centre of Expertise at FAU. Other harmonisation processes for exchanging data and ensuring the quality of the biomaterials are necessary, but the ethical and legal aspects also need to be discussed and aligned. This is the only way in which biomaterials and the associated data can be brought together and used for research across biobanks and international borders.

Biobanks accelerate the development of new methods of diagnosis and treatment

‘The effort is extremely worthwhile because networked biobanks with high quality samples are the basis for productive and reproducible medical research,’ explains Prof. Dr. Michael Hummel. The quality and availability of the biomaterials and the associated data are of crucial importance.

Particularly in the light of personalised precision medicine, the networking of biobanks and the harmonisation of data formats and processes is essential for carrying out meaningful and comparable analyses.

‘The German Biobank Alliance is an excellent opportunity for the biobank community in Germany,’ says Prof. Dr. Hummel. ‘It will contribute to streamlining biomedical research in the long term and strengthen the position of Germany in the European and international research community.’

GBA Biobank map

Map: GBN

About the German Biobank Alliance

The German Biobank Alliance was founded in 2017 by the German Biobank Node (GBN). Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the GBN sees itself as a central co-operation platform for the German biobank community. As part of GBN, eleven BMBF-funded biobanks and two IT development centres in the German Biobank Alliance (GBA) will collaborate to make existing biomaterials from various biobanks available for biomedical research on a Europe-wide basis.

Eleven German biobanks have joined forces in the German Biobank Alliance (GBA). Together they hold almost 14 million biosamples that are available for research. They are working to ensure that by 2020 these samples and data will be able to be exchanged between biobanks in Germany and across Europe. This will be achieved by means of the creation of shared IT infrastructures, the implementation of quality standards and the harmonisation of legal and ethical standards.

More information:

Prof. Hans-Ulrich Prokosch
Phone: +49 9131 85 26720
ulli.prokosch@imi.med.uni-erlangen.de

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