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BBMRI-ERIC is a European research infrastructure for biobanking. We bring together all the main players from the biobanking field – researchers, biobankers, industry, and patients – to boost biomedical research. To that end, we offer quality management services, support with ethical, legal and societal issues, support in biobanking development and a number of online tools and software solutions. Ultimately, our goal is to make new treatments possible.
• Common Service IT (CS IT) established in 2020 focuses on the following core services: Directory, Negotiator, Authentication and Authorization Infrastructure (AAI), interoperability work including MIABIS, Helpdesk, and user experience analysis. With regards to the Interoperability BBMRI-ERIC operates the Interoperability Forum with the participation of the National Nodes. Other services such as Locator or BIBBOX are to be further developed by the National Nodes and their alliances outside of the CS IT. CS IT is responsible for both development and operation of the core services and also has an increasing role in sustaining operation of services developed in different projects aligned with BBMRI-ERIC strategic priorities, such as cancer, rare diseases, paediatrics, or COVID-19/infectious diseases.
• Directory: The Directory is one of the services offered by BBMRI-ERIC CS IT to the global biobank community and was created in collaboration with the BBMRI National Nodes and partners. The Directory provides a central listing of biobanks and their collections in the BBMRI-ERIC member states. For researchers, the Directory offers a means of finding samples and data, while for biobanks it offers a platform to share the existence of their holdings and services and to connect with researchers interested in them.
• Negotiator: The BBMRI-ERIC Negotiator is a service that provides an efficient communication platform for biobankers and researchers requesting samples and/or data. It simplifies the communication steps that are necessary to obtain information on the availability of relevant samples/data, particularly if the researchers need to communicate with multiple candidate biobanks. The Negotiator 2.0 is connected to the established BBMRI-ERIC Directory, the biggest biobanking catalogue on the globe.
• Task Force on Federated Search & Analysis Platform: The task force is co-led by UK and CZ. The focus evolves around extending the amount of onboarded data sources and exploring options for enriching common data models used. The aim is to support search through deep phenotype, clinical and omics data. In collaboration with the CS IT Interoperability Forum, the task force will work on enabling compatibility of the Federated Platform with other widely accepted infrastructures such as Beyond 1+ Million Genomes and other GA4GH compatible infrastructures. The task force will keep exploring possible models for supporting biobanks in populating the data into their local components of BBMRI-ERIC’s federated search and analysis platform.
QUALITY MANAGEMENT SERVICES:
One of BBMRI-ERIC's goals is to make samples comparable across different countries and different biobanking systems. To that end, BBMRI-ERIC provides a range of quality management services addressing different needs:
• Knowledge Hub: The Knowledge Hub consists of a pool of experts that can help by:
o Liaising with international standardization organisations
o Providing information on international standards relevant for biobanking and biomedical research
o Supporting quality management in EU-funded projects and ad-hoc issues, like COVID-19 research.
• Training and support: We offer in-house and online training, university courses, summer schools, short courses, workshops and consulting services covering different quality management systems.
• Auditing: Non-certified biobanks wanting to know if the samples stored fulfil certain quality requirements can get the support of BBMRI.QM. We offer peer-review-style audits on request. These services also include a BBMRI self-assessment tool and, in the case of a positive audit, the option for a Q-Label in the BBMRI-ERIC Directory for both individual collections and/or the biobank itself.
• Quality Assurance: BBMRI-ERIC addresses quality assurance on two levels:
o Define and provide biomarkers (intrinsic/extrinsic) that allow standardized assessment of sample quality through engagement in biospecimen research; application of such biomarkers will allow the pooling of samples of comparably high quality EU-wide, and thus foster large-scale cohort studies, e.g. on cancer, rare diseases and pandemic outbreaks.
o In 2021, BBMRI-ERIC conceptualized proficiency testing as a service complementing the quality management systems. EU-wide initiatives addressing this for e.g., liquid biopsies (serum, plasma, urine and analytes thereof) despite their increasing clinical significance are lacking.
ETHICAL, LEGAL AND SOCIETAL ISSUES - ELSI SERVICES:
The ELSI operates on the basis of a federated model, in partnership with a network of experts from academia and practice from across both our National Nodes and project partners. BBMRI-ERIC provides four key ELSI services:
• Research: We conduct research relating to ethical, legal and societal issues. This is fundamental to staying up to date with and contributing knowledge to our services and training.
• Service: We support the biobanking and life science research infrastructure communities by facilitating compliance with regulatory requirements and best practice standards.
• Training: We provide training and workshops on ELSI issues such as Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA), ethical compliance and social engagement, among others.
• Code of Conduct for Health Research is in preparation and aims at clarifying data privacy rules for the health research sector.
Biobanking Development Services:
The Biobanking Development was formed in 2022 to assist the BBMRI community and actively work towards long-term sustainability of National Nodes and biobanks alike. Ensuring continued return on investment is becoming a key target for countries spending significant resources to create National Nodes and networks. Thus, sustainability concepts need to be accounted for along the entire maturation phase of National Nodes and biobanks. We will focus to fully leverage accelerated sample and data exchange along with fostering Community Engagement and leveraging novel technology applications, thus boosting the overall impact of BBMRI services and resources.
BBMRI-ERIC also connects the biobanking community across Europe with fundamental stakeholders.
• It increases the visibility of biobanks and biobanking as the linchpin of personalised medicine development.
• It connects over 30 leading patients’ organisations, industry trade associations, individual companies and learned societies to the world of biobanking.
• It connects to key stakeholders, the EC, and other research infrastructures and fosters collaborations with other organisations.
• It brings the voice of biobanking to EU and national decision makers.
Methods & Expertise for Research Infrastructure
BBMRI-ERIC shall 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 facillities and support high quality biomolecular and medical research. BBMRI-ERIC shall implement its Work Programme as adopted by the Assembly of Members.
In addition, we collaborate with dozens of institutions through EU-funded projects: https://www.bbmri-eric.eu/eu-grants/
We work with 12 partner universities and biobanks within our Austrian Node, BBMRI.at:
Medical University of Graz; Medical University of Vienna; University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna; Medical University of Innsbruck; Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg; Johannes Kepler University, Linz; Alpen Adria Universität Klagenfurt; University of Vienna; Biobank Graz; MedUni Wien Biobank; VetBioBank; Biobank Innsbruck