What BBMRI.at plans
Building on achievements of previous years, BBMRI.at will continues to put emphasis on sample and data quality and harmonization, facilitating access to biobank samples/data, networking with industry and science, and fostering research collaborations using biobanked samples/data and expertise. In addition, new topics with current relevance for biobanking are in the focus. They include the One Health approach and comparative medicine, data integration in BBMRI-ERIC, data-related legal/regulatory issues, and environmental sustainability in biobanking.
Goals & key acitivities are to
- Proceed dialogue between science and industry
- Continue to improve sample quality and put strong focus on data quality in biobanking
- Optimize access to biobanks across Austria, based on the BBMRI-ERIC access policy.
- Work towards harmonized data integration and access to Austrian biobank data in alignment with BBMRI-ERIC
- Observe European legal and regulatory developments relevant for biobanking and provide input
- Further implement ISO/CEN standards and bring in expertise to the development of new standards
- Draw attention to the One Health and comparative medicine approaches and the potential of veterinary sample collections
- Foster research collaborations in areas cancer mission and one health area
- Assess environmental sustainability of biobanks and work out measures to increase it
- Operate the Austrian National Node and facilitate the integration and participation of the Austrian biobanking community in BBMRI-ERIC.
Dialogue between science and industry
BBMRI.at aims to establish a state-of-the-art biobanking infrastructure in Austria and to further increase close cooperation and harmonization between biobanks. Engagement and collaboration with researchers and clinicians involved in the biobanking process are of utmost importance.
These are prerequisites for facilitating access and fostering the use of biological samples and data for academic and industrial research projects. Biologic samples and data collected in biobanks are valuable resources for innovations in personalized medicine, and development of biomarkers, diagnostics and therapeutics. But also services and knowhow established at biobanks are a resource provided by BBMRI.at and partner biobanks.
Access to biobanks
BBRMI.at associated biobanks have agreed on a common access procedure that is based on the BBMRI-ERIC access policy.
A central contact point operated by BBMRI.at takes requests from researchers for samples/data/services, for collaborations and/or participation in proposals for funded projects. It links the requesting researchers with Austrian biobanks and cohort-responsible researchers and medical professionals.
Improve sample and data quality
BBMRI.at will continue to focus on sample quality. This helps to improve the reproducibility of research data as a prerequisite for the re-use and integration of data generated by the analysis of biosamples. In addition to sample quality, data quality will be a prominent topic. Data quality concepts from BBMRI.at #2 serve as basis for further development and implementation of solutions to link biosamples with associated data.
ISO and CEN quality standards
BBMRI.at has a leading role in the development of new ISO and CEN quality standards relevant for medical diagnostics, biobanking and research. Implementation of biobanking-related ISO and CEN standards in biobanks will remain a prominent topic. They serve as a common reference for BBMRI biobanks harmonization and for sample quality improvement and are particularly important to meet the requirements of the European in-vitro diagnostic prescription.
Harmonization of data integration and access to Austrian biobank data
BBMRI.at has a strong focus on data integration, harmonization and access, an important topic in biobanking. Existing data management solutions will be updated to meet the latest demands for more detailed data and for FAIR data. This includes novel tools or versions developed in BBMRI-ERIC and BBMRI.at which shall increase visibility of samples and data and contribute to facilitating accessibility.
European legal and regulatory issues
Questions of legal compliance in research with biodata are as essential as complex. Moreover, data-related legal issues are very current, dynamic and relevant for biobanking. Therefore, BBMRI.at has a new focus on legal/regulatory frameworks which are about to be adopted at the European level (e.g. European Health Data Space Act, Data Governance Act). Legal experts in BBMRI.at will operate a national legal helpdesk, monitor legal and regulatory developments, and provide input to current legal discussions. This should help BBMRI.at and BBMRI-ERIC to establish their position in further legal frameworks.
One Health and comparative medicine approaches & potential of veterinary samples
‘One Health’ approach and comparative medicine have been restimulated by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic which demonstrated the close connection between humans, animals, and their shared environment. BBMRI.at has both human and veterinary biobanks as partners. A dedicated work package aims to raise awareness on the potential of such biobanks and their samples/data for ‘One Health’, comparative medicine (e.g. human – dog) and related cancer research projects. Researchers shall be brought together and strategies for research collaborations discussed.
Environmental sustainability of biobanks
Climate change spurs the demand for minimizing the environmental footprint in all areas of life – also in biobanks. BBMRI.at #3 will identify current environmental impact of the biobank partners and work out potential measures to increase environmental sustainability and lower energy consumption, usage of toxic chemicals and production of waste.
European network BBMRI-ERIC
Ultimately, BBMRI.at will finance the operation and required activities of the Austrian National Node and will facilitate the integration and participation of the Austrian biobanking community in BBMRI-ERIC.
These activities build on previous BBMRI.at work (BBMRI.at #2)
To increase the visibility of Austrian biobanks and certain sample collections, so-called „Lighthouse Collections“ were assessed and highlighted. These collections are best practice collections in the international biobanking scene. They are of exceptional value to certain users and serve as models for new collections to be established or further developed.
Another important part of BBMRI.at has been the investigation of the dynamics of societal expectations of biobanks in the context of new legal frameworks, such as the General Data Protection Regulation and an overall rapidly developing science and innovation landscape. This work on social aspects makes an important contribution to the development of new governance models for sustainability and an organic banking strategy. It has also been included in the BBMRI-ERIC Common Service ELSI.