Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB)

What can ERIC do for biobanking?

2014-05-21

What can the EU research governance tool ERIC do for biobanking? The answer to that can be found in the European Journal of Human Genetics where Jane Reichel, Anna-Sara Lind and Mats G. Hansson from CRB provides an analysis together with Jan-Eric Litton from BBMRI-ERIC.

A few years ago, the European Union introduced a new governance tool called, the European Research Infrastructure Consortium, or 'ERIC'. In November last year biobanking got an ERIC of its own, the BBMRI-ERIC.

According to the authors, BBMRI-ERIC is a platform that creates opportunities for long term research collaborations between EU countries. Within the platform, groups can develop functional standards for technical, legal and ethical purposes. They can also set up criteria for biobanks within the platform. On top, BBMRI-ERIC creates a platform for researchers to communicate with policymakers at both EU and national level.

But one of the biggest hurdles for biobank research today is the differences in regulatory frameworks for biobanking within the EU. Unfortunately, according to the authors, the ERIC does not in itself provide substantial tools to help solve this problem.

"I think BBMRI-ERIC is a good example of a useful EU research governance tool that can contribute to further enhancing the excellency of European research. Since the launching of BBMRI-ERIC in November, the initial phase is over and the real work has begun. We have started developing standards and identifying tools that may help us overcome the many administrative hurdles to cross-border biobanking. We are also working on establishing networks for ethicists and lawyers from the member countries, to ensure access to qualitative advice embedded into the national traditions, mutual learning and sharing of ideas", says Jane Reichel, one of the authors.

Read article: Reichel J, Lind A-S, Hansson MG, Litton, J-E, ERIC - A new governance tool for Biobanking, European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 5 February 2014; doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2014.6

By Josepine Fernow

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