Benefit-sharing, Biobanks and Vulnerable Populations

  • Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra
Conference paper
Part of the Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Deutsches, Europäisches und Internationales Medizinrecht, Gesundheitsrecht und Bioethik der Universitäten Heidelberg und Mannheim book series (IMGB, volume 33)


With the rapid development of tools for DNA extraction, there has been a notable increase in the establishment of small and large biobanks for the purpose of research. Combined with highly efficient methods for DNA analysis, biobanks provide a large scale tool for biomedical research. As biobanks continue to be established worldwide, new and recurring ethical issues are put forward in the international arena. One such topic is benefit-sharing, which offers ways to address, on a small scale, existing global inequities, especially those related to the benefits and burdens of medical research. This paper attempts to raise some of the concerns related to the development of benefit-sharing frameworks, particularly in the context of vulnerable populations, who typically suffer from the inequities that benefit-sharing intends to address. The discussion is based implicitly and explicitly on the following five questions: Who are the vulnerable? How can benefitsharing be justified? What exactly should be shared? When is benefit-sharing appropriate? Why are certain benefit-sharing schemes being offered?

Emphasis is put on the importance of the context in which benefits are shared. Furthermore, obstacles and complexities of benefit-sharing are illustrated with regard to the findings of a qualitative study. The paper concludes by looking at biobanks in connection with global justice in the field of health research.


Intellectual Property Vulnerable Population Genomic Research Global Justice Vulnerable Person 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biomedical EthicsUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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