Biobanks store blood, cells, urine, saliva, and other specimens from patients and healthy volunteers. Researchers use the specimens, for example, in attempting to discover methods to diagnose diseases earlier or tailor treatments for individual patients. Sweden has a long and successful history of using biobanks.
“Several of the older biobanks, for instance those in Umeå and Malmö, are so productive that we can say they are similar to academic and scientific research factories."
Just over half of the grant will be used for a large, automated facility to store specimens. The facility is being built in Flemingsberg, near the south campus of Karolinska Institutet. Here specimens will be stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen at extremely low temperatures to preserve many substances in the specimens.
“It will be a national research facility that will be used mainly to keep new specimens."
The remaining funds will be used to employ 21 people, distributed across the six faculties of medicine. They will coordinate the collection and use of specimens.
“We will standardize collection, collaborate on how to use current material, and develop quality standards and routines. Optimally useable specimens will be collected and used in an optimum manner," says Joakim Dillner.
“It sparked my interest in biobanks, and now I work extensively with infrastructural biobank research — in other words, research on how we can construct and use biobanks."
Note: The Bio Banking and Molecular Resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI) is a European collaboration. BBMRI.SE is the Swedish component in this collaboration.
Text: Siv Engelmark Cederborg