Is a Biobank a Facility or Research Project?

This question was asked in an international biobanking community forum back in April 2021. Answers were equivocal with many respondents taking each way bet saying ‘both’. But this is not new. A decade ago Shickle et al warned that whilst “many authors have attempted to describe biobanks based on various combinations of… characteristics… such lists only serve to demonstrate the heterogeneity of biobanks.”. Similarly, Hewitt and Watson concluded that whilst “the term ‘biobank’ may be applied to biological collections of human, animal, plant or microbial samples, …. there was no consensus on whether a collection’s purpose, size or level of access should determine whether it is called a biobank”.

Clearly, defining what a biobank is, has been a quandary that persists today. Does this equivocation reflect that biobanks represent a wide range of activities with varying purposes and diverse operational structures? Or does it harbor a scattered understanding where any tissue collection regardless of purpose and practice is to be eligible to be called a biobank?

Click here to read this article by Dr. Daniel Catchpoole, an associate professor at The University of Technology Sydney and the head of biospecimen research services at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

 

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