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UK joins the EU’s biobanking research infrastructure

The UK has joined the Biobanking and BioMolecular resources Research Infrastructure - European Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMR-ERIC) at its General Assembly, which took place in Vienna on 28 April 2015.

The UK will be represented by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and becomes the 17th Member State. The MRC is an independent, publicly-funded government agency which coordinates and funds medical research in the UK. Speaking at the Assembly, BBMRI-ERIC’s Director General Prof Jan-Eric Litton said, ‘It is with great pleasure I welcome the UK to BBMRI-ERIC. The UK is an important player in the biobank and biomolecular field and will bring both knowledge and experience to the BBMRI family. The UK has many important cohort studies, the huge national resource of UK Biobank and also many important disease-specific biobanks that will help to develop knowledge for the understanding of the diversity of human disease.’ The pan-European Biobanking and BioMolecular resources Research Infrastructure - European Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMR-ERIC) improves the accessibility and interoperability of the existing comprehensive collections, either population-based or clinical-oriented, of biological samples from different (sub)populations of Europe. These collections include the attached data on factors such as health status, nutrition, lifestyle, and environmental exposure of the study subjects. Combined with the expertise of the clinicians, pathologists, bio-informaticians, and molecular biologists involved, a globally unmatched, Europe-wide platform for translational medical research is envisaged with the aim to develop personalised medicine and disease prevention for the benefit of European citizens. To reach this goal, the biotech and pharmaceutical industries must be able to collaborate with academic researchers in order to fully realise the enormous potential of European biobanking. In addition to clinical, ethical and legal experts, patient communities are involved to achieve standards and guidelines that properly balance individual values, such as protection of privacy and informed consent, with shared values of facilitated access to progress in health care and disease prevention. On 3 December 2013, BBMRI was officially awarded the Community legal framework for a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). This specific legal form is designed to facilitate the joint establishment and operation of research infrastructures of European interest. The ERIC status allows pulling together biobanks and biomolecular resources into a pan-European facility and providing access to collections of partner biobanks and biomolecular resources, their expertise and services on a non-profit basis. BBMRI-ERIC aims to establish, operate and develop a pan-European distributed research infrastructure of biobanks and biomolecular resources in order to facilitate the access to resources as well as facilities and to support high quality biomolecular and medical research. BBMRI-ERIC operates on a non-economic basis. BBMRI-ERIC is set up as a distributed research infrastructrure in most, if not all European member states. Including the United Kingdom as its latest member, BBMRI-ERIC consists as of today of 17 member states and one international organisation, making it one of the largest research infrastructures for health research in Europe. For BBMRI-ERIC, contact: Michaela Th. Mayrhofer PhD Senior Project Manager BBMRI-ERIC Email: Tel: + 43 316 34 99 17-13 For Media, contact: Declan Kirrane Managing Director ISC Email: Tel: + 32 (0)2 8888114 Editor’s Note: Members: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom Observer Countries: Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey, IARC/WHO Mission: BBMRI-ERIC will increase efficacy and excellence of European bio-medical research by facilitating access to quality-defined human health/disease-relevant biological resources.