How to kickstart a national biobanking infrastructure–experiences and prospects of BBMRI-NL

- Norsk epidemiologi
Author/s: -Brandsma, M -Baas, F -de Bakker, PIW -Beem, EP -Boomsma, DI -Bovenberg, J -Bueno-de-Mesquita, B -van Duijn, C -Kiemeney, LA -Klungel, O
Journal: Norsk epidemiologi
Year: 2012
Volume: 21
Issue: 2

Biobanking is essential for science-based health care solutions in the 21st century. In order to develop better diagnostics, treatments and cures for diseases a deeper understanding is needed of genetic and environmental pathways causing disease, including mechanisms that protect people from becoming ill. Scientific research aimed at these issues depends on the availability of a broad spectrum of high quality human biological sam- ples related to health and disease, accompanied by clinical, environmental and lifestyle data. Biobanks provide these essential resources.
In 2006 the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences published the results of a foresight study on Multifactorial Diseases in the Genomics Era. The study focused on scientific opportunities in the causes, course and prevention of multifactorial chronic disor- ders, including the necessary research infrastructure. It concluded that in order to be successful an adequate amount of good quality biological material and data had to be available. It also concluded that existing biobanks in the Netherlands and Europe contained suf- ficient amounts of samples and data to perform more detailed analyses. In order to use these, biobanks had to be optimized and linked to each other. Data and ma- terial had to be made mutually comparable, necessi- tating optimization of phenotype descriptions and data registration, as well as standardization of quality and storage of biological material. In addition, legal and ethical aspects had to be clarified, sufficient funding had to be made available and the public had to be properly informed. Last but not least, opportunities for European collaboration had to be explored (1).
In the same year, the European Roadmap for Re- search Infrastructures was produced by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). This provided a strong impulse for integration of bio- banks at the European level. Creating a network of existing and new biobanks and molecular resources was identified as one of the priorities in the field of Biomedical and Life Sciences (2). The European biobanking community responded to this call in 2007 and the preparatory phase of the European Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure
BBMRI started at the European level in early 2008 with funding from the European Commission. In its preparatory phase (2008-2011), plans were developed for a distributed research infrastructure with operatio- nal units in all participating countries (3).
The Dutch National Roadmap for Large-scale Re- search Facilities which was published later in 2008 indicated the Dutch node of BBMRI, BBMRI-NL, as top-priority (4). It received 22.5 million Euros for its initial three year period from NWO, The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.
In this article we outline the Dutch experience in biobanking: how a national network of biobanks, BBMRI-NL, was set up in the Netherlands and the results achieved since its initiation in 2009.