The Italian Prototype Networks of Research Biobanks

  • Giuliano D’AgnoloEmail author
  • Elena Bravo


Research-based biobanks will create new synergies between industry and public research structures, strengthening the competitiveness of our country for health industries. In addition to the ultimate objective of prevention and treatment of complex diseases, the short-term benefit will come from the development of new and more powerful diagnostic agents. In fact, molecular diagnostics, a new discipline based on “-omics” technologies, a powerful tool to understand diseases and assist individuals at risk, is one of the fastest growing segments in the healthcare industry. In order to collect the socio-economic benefits summarised above, many European countries, have underway, or are planning, large, well organised biobanks. However, the existing samples collection, resources, technologies and expertise have been developed under different ethical and legal landscapes across Europe. The existing collections suffer from fragmentation, variable access rules and the lack of commonly applied standards. This lack of standardization prevents the effective use of biological samples and data from different biobanks, which is a prerequisite to achieve sufficient statistical power for genomics research in humans. By initiating the Biobanking and Biomolecular Research Infrastructure (BBMRI) [All Member States and the Commission agreed on a shared vision of how the European Research Area (ERA) should develop by 2020 ( This vision was adopted by the Council of Ministers in December 2008, and implemented for the needed infrastructures by ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, a already existing strategic instrument with the task of developing the scientific integration of Europe and to strengthen its international outreach. Since it was formed in 2002, at the behest of the European Council, ESFRI has witnessed significant advances towards unity and international impact in the field of research infrastructures. The publication of the first Roadmap for pan-European research infrastructures in 2006, and its update in 2008 ( was a key contributing factor, and several projects are now in the realization phase like BBMRI ( BBMRI is a large scale project building a research infrastructure structured as a federated network of biological resources centres including all types of biobanks: disease oriented, population-based biobanks, biomolecular-resources; it includes all fields of medical research: rare diseases, cancer, complex diseases, etc.] on February 1st, 2008, Europe addressed the need to: harmonise standards for sample collection, storage and analysis; harmonise data collection and database infrastructure; provide ethical and legal guidance; develop a sustainable funding model for biobanks. This article describes some of the aspects of this European infrastructure.


Regional Authority Research Infrastructure Legal Entity European Research Area National Bioethic Committee 
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 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The National Committee on Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences, Presidenza del Consiglio dei MinistriRomeItaly
  2. 2.The Istituto superiore di sanitàRomeItaly
  3. 3.The National Node of the Biobanking and Biomolecular Research InfrastructureViennaAustria

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