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Fit for purpose: biobanks plan ahead for tomorrow’s research

300 experts discuss biobank challenges at the 7th German National Biobank Symposium in Berlin

12 December 2018. Biobanks make a vital contribution to the development of innovative diagnostics methods and patient treatments. Consequently, they are crucial to biomedical research. With this in mind, the 7th German National Biobank Symposium was held under the banner “Fit for Purpose” on 11 and 12 December 2018 in Berlin. Approximately 300 experts met to discuss the latest technologies, methods and trends. The event was jointly organised by TMF and by the German Biobank Node (GBN).

Professor Michael Hummel, National Coordinator of the German Biobank Node (GBN), opened the event, stating: “Biobanks must face the challenges presented by personalised medicine, and work to support new technologies and innovative methods in research and health care.” New approaches, such as single-cell sequencing and organoid models, are being trialled in state-of-the-art oncological and cardiovascular research. These place high demands on biobanks in terms of quality standards, staff skills and data documentation. Under the aegis of TMF and GBN, German biobanks are jointly developing standards and solutions in order to meet these requirements.

Digital transformation gains ground

An important step towards achieving these aims is the digital transformation of biobanking. IT integration and interoperation across biobanks is essential for comprehensive searches on samples and corresponding data – and will therefore greatly accelerate biomedical research. A first version of a federated-search tool developed by GBN is already available for use.

First ISO standard for biobanks published

With regard to quality management, and specifically biobanks, ISO 20387 was published in August 2018. This is the first ISO standard specially developed for biobanking – and therefore marks a new chapter. Experts agree that the new ISO will ensure more consistent quality management at an international level.

Correlating samples and data from patient care

Correlating samples and data from patient care is opening up significant opportunities. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing 150 million euros in funding for the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII), which has brought together all university hospitals in Germany. These entities aim, in particular, to process and harmonise health-care data recorded by doctors, and to make these data available for research. To this end, MII and GBN plan to cooperate closely to establish the necessary basis for correlating samples and data. As Sebastian Claudius Semler, Executive Director of TMF, highlighted at the symposium: “As digital transformation progresses, we will finally be able to use biological samples and data in combination – a goal we are pursuing within the scope of the Medical Informatics Initiative. Moreover, the initiative’s standardisation of data structures and analysis methods makes a key contribution to assuring the quality of patient treatments in the context of personalised medicine.”


Conference volume of the 7th National Biobank Symposium released
                    Fay Betsou, PhD, HDR (Integrated Biobank Luxembourg, IBBL)


                    Winners of the poster contest (f.r.t.l.): Claudia Schuster, John Linde (lead author: Jeannette Löser), Annalena Lüchtenberg

Additional Information

  1. Website of the German Biobank Node


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