Biobank perspectives: Ethics & law
We have worked with the ethical and legal aspects of biboank and registry research for more than a decade. With the aid of BBMRI.se we were able to share our perspectives with the biobank community through the biobank perspectives newsletter that was issued three times a year between 2014 and 2017.
Although we no longer publish the Biobank Perspectives newsletter, we still collect all our biobank and registry news in this dedicated newsfeed. And we collect our publications on the subject in our biobank and registry report. Previous issues of Biobank perspectives are also avaliable for download.
Biobank perspectives: Current issues in ethics and law
First European biobank for research on breast milk and medicines
A new large European research project will fill the knowledge gaps when it comes to medical treatments of pregnant and nursing women. To be able to evaluate the effects of drugs during pregnancy and breast feeding, Uppsala biobank will collect and store breast milk and blood samples form pregnant and nursing women currently under medical treatment. The samples will be collected from women around Europe. In addition, the drug analysis platform UDOPP at the SciLifeLab’s Uppsala site will develop methods and technology to analyze drug residues in milk and blood.
Biobank Sweden launches ELSI Helpdesk
The Swedish Research Council-funded research infrastructure Biobank Sweden supports healthcare providers and universities with medical faculties working towards national harmonization in biobanking.
Genetic risk: Should researchers let people know?
Should researchers inform research participants, if they discover genetic disease risks in the participants? Yes, many would say, if the information is helpful to the participants. However, the value of complex genetic risk information for individuals is uncertain. In a PhD thesis from Uppsala University, Jennifer Viberg Johansson suggests that this uncertainty needs to be acknowledged by both geneticists and ethicists.
Transferring biobank research data between the EU and African countries
Despite the fact that the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides ways to transfer data, it is difficult to find ways to share data between Europe and Africa. The feasible routes rely on EU enforcement. This means the possibilities for oversight are limited, leading to considerable data privacy risks.
Looking for legal project coordinator
We are looking for a legal project coordinator for the Swedish ELSI-helpdesk that will provide service for researchers connected to the Swedish research infrastructure Biobank Sweden. Apply by February 20, 2018.
Likelihood not always informative when making sense of genetic risk
The likelihood of disease is not always informative to research participants. The numeric sense of genetic risk does not always correspond to their understanding of risk information. Instead, research participants tend to understand genetic risk as a binary concept: you either are at risk, or you are not.
Report from Uppsala workshop on Public Private Partnerships
The focus on Public Private Partnership (PPP) emerged as PPPs are strongly endorsed as a model by EU grant funding schemes. The stakeholders workshop Ethically and legally sustainable partnership between industry and public funded research initiatives: PPP and Rare diseases as a case study took place at Uppsala University, organized by the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB), RD-Connect and the COST Action CHIP ME on 7-8 November 2016. A wide range of Stakeholders took part to the event creating a very interesting and challenging discussion from different perspectives.
Stem cells: a new type of biobank material?
Stem cells are perhaps not what first springs to mind as biobank material. Yet, even stem cells can be biobank material and there are biobanks that focus on stem cells. The use of this biobank material, however, has some unique features.
A new Swedish legal framework for handling alleged misconduct
Recently, a Swedish Government Inquiry proposed a new legal framework for handling and investigating research misconduct. A new act is suggested to enter into force on 1st of January 2019. Here, Anna-Sara Lind presents the main novelties in the proposal.
B3Africa: first 18 months
In its first 18 months, B3Africa has taken two essential steps: the development of a technical solution for biobank research, and the design of a culture sensitive ethical and legal framework to ensure the rights of the sample donors are safeguarded.
New Swedish legal officer in the BBMRI-ERIC ELSI helpdesk
From February 1 2017, LL.D. Santa Slokenberga is taking over Moa Kindström Dahlin’s obligations at the BBMRI-ERIC ELSI Common Service.
Swedish research data inquiry on exceptions
The Swedish Government has decided to commission a Research Data Inquiry to review regulations regarding the processing of personal data for research. The reference group includes three researchers from CRB: Mats G. Hansson, Anna-Sara Lind and Jane Reichel.
New research on cyber governance of health data
Digital technology creates both a chance and a pressure to use health data for research and commercial purposes. But this emerging ‘health cyberspace’ needs to be handled in a way that meets our social expectations on governance, security and privacy. And at the same time allows data to be used in ways that are beneficial to society. This is what a project supported by Nordforsk is setting out to do.
Legal aspects of direct-to-consumer genetic testing
Regulating health services is challenging because of the multitude of legal questions it raises. Not only do they relate to the quality of the service and protection of its users, but also to the competence and authority of actors involved. Here Santa Slokenberga, LLD, offers insights from her research on regulating direct-to-consumer genetic testing at the European level.
Managing data protection in practice – Swedish perspectives
The legislative process regarding the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is closed within the European Union as the Regulation was decided in April this year. The activity at the Government Offices of Sweden has, however, not ceased. Here, Anna-Sara Lind gives us her view on the consequences for Sweden.
Public-private research partnerships: Workshop
In recent years, universities have done a lot of work to promote research partnerships with industry. Medical schools are encouraging their research faculties to pursue entrepreneurial strategies (start ups) to start companies and partnerships with industry. Together with RD-Connect and CHIPme, we invite you to discuss these issues in a two day workshop looking at current practices for public private collaborations and especially initiatives on rare diseases on November 7-8 this year.
Informed consent guidelines listed among IRDiRC Recognized Resources
We are pleased to announce that a set of guidelines for informed consent in international collaborative rare disease research developed within the RD-Connect framework has received the IRDiRC Recognized Resources” label.
ELSI Helpdesk: What does it do?
The organisation of the ELSI Helpdesk is coordinated by the Swedish node. It gathers input from various sources and collaboration is ensured with other ELSI experts from the national nodes from the BBMRI-ERIC member states. LL.D. Moa Kindström Dahlin is the Chief Responsible Officer. Here, she offers her thoughts on the process of setting up a federated Helpdesk.
Data Protection Regulation: final result
Anna-Sara Lind gives us an update on the what the final results of the negotiations for a general data protection regulation in the European Union.
Risk of re-identification vs the need to identify individuals
There are risks associated with handling personal data in research. Unauthorised re-identification can cause harm. But there are clear benefits in terms of patient safety related to diagnosis and treatment if researchers are able to distinguish between individuals by identification.
It is your DNA, you should have a say
Genetic research depends on people donating their samples, allowing their genetic data to travel the world to be compared to data from other individuals. The policy that governs this process needs to be informed by what people really think. To find out, a unique research project is launching an online survey, YourDNAYourSay, to explore global public attitudes and beliefs around sharing genetic information.
Feedback of individual genetic results in Europe still not feasible
When it comes to genetic research, there is a growing consensus that research participants could be offered their individual results. Provided that they are scientifically robust, analytically valid and there is some clinical action people can take to prevent disease. Despite this, it is not common practice to do this in European genetic research. The reasons are many, one being the lack of legal frameworks, guidelines and resources to support feedback processes in research.
Call for ELSI experts
The BBMRI-ERIC ELSI Common Service relies on input from experts. They are now calling for your expertise!
EU-US Privacy Shield to once again ensure safe harbours for data transfers
The annulled Safe Harbour agreement puts research collaborations in a peculiar position. Here, Jane Reichel, Professor of Administrative Law, gives an update on the negotiations.
Effective consent for effective research
New sequencing techniques and the increasing sharing of data in international research consortia challenges the informed consent process, adding complexities that need to be co-ordinated. Rare diseases challege informed consent procedures.
Direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies lack clear consent processes for biobanking and research
Whole genome and exome sequencing are becoming cheaper and more available. High throughput techniques are no longer for research only. Today, both patients and consumers can have their genome sequenced. But the information consumers receive about this is often inadequate and could undermine the validity of the consent process.
ELSI: Inter-connecting legal frameworks, ethical and social issues
BBMRI-ERIC is a joint European platform for biobanking where ELSI service is considered a key asset. Moa Kindström Dahlin, doctor of public law, is the legal expert in the Uppsala team. Here she offers an update.
Unsafe harbours for researchers
There are many research projects in Europe that have safe harbour as a legal ground for sharing data between the EU and the US. These projects could now be in a peculiar situation as a judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union concludes that Safe Harbour is not anymore a legally valid ground for sharing data between countries in the EU and the US.
How people value risk information
The Swedish SCAPIS study will identify individual risk factors for heart and lung disease. But how do research participants and patients perceive risk? And what do they want to know? Right now, two doctoral students are looking at people's preferences and perceptions.
Guideline for sharing specimens and data receives IRDiRC recommendation
The International Charter of principles for sharing bio-specimens and data has received a recommendation from the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium IRDiRC.
Renewed European effort to agree on data protection
The European Data Protection Regulation keeps moving through the administrative and legislative process. This summer, The Council, The European Parliament and the European Commission started the 'trilogue' negotiations. Here, Anna-Sara Lind gives her comments on the process.
Bioethicists suggest broad consent for biobank research
It is still unclear what kind of consent should be used when collecting biological samples for future research. Different forms of consent are practiced. This creates another uncertainty: which research is actually permitted with the collected samples?
Global research infrastructure for biobanking
The University of the Western Cape in South Africa just hosted the first meeting of B3Africa – a Horizon2020 CSA Action to bridge European and African biobanking and biomedical research.
Genetic risk: people might not know if they want to know
Biobank studies and genetic research aim at finding out the relationship between our genetic code and our diseases. Sometimes researchers find unexpected information about a participant. Asking people if they want this kind of risk information returned to them seems like a good idea. But is it fair to leave them to make that decision?
Trust based consent looks promising
Finding a model for informed consent that protects the integrity and interests of participants, future patients and researchers isn't easy. Recently, a group in Milano tested a trust based consent that I think looks promising.
Swedish research database legislation: update
Research databases like the Swedish Life Gene project have proven problematic and the Swedish Government has tried to find solutions for collections of samples and data for 'future research', a purpose that is not considered specific enough by the Data Inspection Board.
Information and law in transition
New information and communication technologies have created exciting new possibilities for connecting individuals across borders and continents but also significant legal, ethical and political concerns.
Regulating biobank research: new book
Biobank research and genomic information are changing the way we look at health and medicine. So how can we regulate it? A recent book published by Springer shows us how the regulatory systems work and raises a critical voice.
Research ethics for medicine and the life sciences
Research ethics and research integrity is not just following regulation. Researchers
need the ability to identify ethical aspects in their own research. And to do something about them.
The principles for sharing
To improve health care and validate research, we need to provide easier access to samples and data: Access that at the same time is ethical. This is the guiding principle in a new charter for sharing of biospecimens and data published by an international group of researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics.
LifeGene: Case closed?
The LifeGene project has been heavily discussed among biobank researchers in the last couple of years. The project gave rise to a number of both scientific and legal matters.
ELSI common service for BBMRI-ERIC
BBMRI-ERIC is a platform for long term research collaborations between EU countries. Within the platform, groups can develop standards for technical, legal and ethical purposes and set up criteria for biobanks. It could also offer new possibilities for researchers to communicate with policymakers.
New law for research databases?
The Swedish Government considers national registries a unique and important resource. But the legal situation for these registries is unclear and could stand in the way of research.
What can ERIC do for biobanking?
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.
Data protection update – A word on the legislative process
On March 12, the European Parliament accepted the Data Protection regulation. When it comes to EU regulation, this is only the beginning of the process. Anna-Sara Lind, Associate Professor of Public Law, gives us her word on the legislative process.
Dealing with genetic risk information
How do we evaluate and handle genetic risk information? For the coming six years, the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB) will co-ordinate an international research project to support health care, patients and decision makers.
We offer current issues in biobank ethics and law from the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB) and BBMRI.se.
News from CRB
- What should we eat? An ethical framework for well-grounded food choices 2020-03-06
- Swedish obstetric routines changed after criticized study: Too soon? 2020-03-03
- Governance and ethics of health care in focus 2020-01-10
- Connecting the brain and consciousness 2019-11-06
- Egg donation for gene editing in embryos expose women to health risks 2019-11-05
- Choosing what's for dinner raises ethical questions 2019-10-16
- Cheating students: Swedish university teachers sometimes naïve 2019-09-18
- Future ethical standards for ICT, Big Data, AI and robotics 2019-07-11
- Testing for hereditary (genetic) diseases before pregnancy raises ethical issues 2019-04-16
- Nurses and physicians have different views on DNR orders 2019-04-16
- Monitored by mom and dad 2019-03-29
- What should we eat? New Swedish book on food and ethics 2019-03-29
- Research participants struggle to understand test results 2019-03-26
- Public awareness of antibiotic resistance 2019-03-12
- Should we be screening future parents for genetic disorders? 2019-03-01
The Ethics Blog
- Proceed carefully with vaccine against covid-19 2020-04-04
- What is a moral machine? 2020-04-01
- Herb Terrace about the chimpanzee Nim – do you see the contradiction? 2020-03-23
- What shall we eat? An ethical framework for food choices 2020-03-16
- Artificial intelligence and living consciousness 2020-03-02
- Exactly when does a human being actually come into existence? 2020-02-18
- When order creates disorder 2020-02-04
- Neuroethics as foundational 2020-01-28
- Clinical cancer trials convey a culture of hope 2020-01-14
- Christmas blog post about contemplation and wide horizons 2019-12-19
Biobanks and registries in research
We aim for a biobank and registry management that satisfies ethical and legal demands from the research community, the public and the individual.