The hub for biobanking in Europe.
Biobank Graz at Medical University of Graz, Austria, belongs to the largest repositories of human samples in Europe. It contains nearly six million samples from normal and pathological tissues, including formalinfixed, paraffin-embedded tissues (FFPE), fresh frozen tissue samples and frozen body fluids such as serum, plasma, urine and liquor.
Biobank Graz is characterised by a number of features, unique to be present in a single biobank.
- is based in a university carrying the label “HR Excellence in Research”.
- is certified according to ISO 9001:2008.
- runs a QM system with SOPs for all aspects of the biobanking process.
- fully protects personal rights and privacy of sample donors and handles their biological samples accordingly.
- runs powerful logistics to offer highest sample qualities.
- has set up new automated infrastructure for handling and storage of samples at room temperature, -80°C and below -130°C (liquid nitrogen).
- enables prospective collections of samples and data based on the needs of the scientists.
At Medical University of Graz, Biobank Graz is a publicly owned non-profit organisation supported by public funds (BM.WFW, Zukunftsfond Steiermark).
Biobank Graz has developed into a central research facility and now matures to a biological resource center specifically designed to support scientific projects that foster medical research and personalised medicine. Biobank Graz is directly linked to cutting-edge technologies (all -omics) combined with sustainable high quality research services based at the Center of Medical Research (ZMF) of the Medical University of Graz. Biobank Graz is also directly linked to the highly renowned clinical expertise of the LKH-University Hospital Graz.
Using this perfect environment, Biobank Graz directly supports academic, industrial as well as cooperative research all over the world. In recent years, a large number of clinical projects and trials have been carried out using samples, data and/or logistic services of Biobank Graz. Thus, Biobank Graz contributes to scientific development and research results building the basis for medical benefits for the public and the health care system.
The collection strategy of Biobank Graz is represented by a double-tracked system. Therefore, Biobank Graz merges two different types of biobanks in one supra-regional biobank:
• A non-selected, cross sectional biobank, containing essentially all pathological samples and clinical data from the population of the Austrian state of Styria (1.2 million inhabitants). These samples with their respective clinical data are derived from a nonselected patient group characteristic of central Europe and have been collected and stored over the last 30 years.
• A disease-focused clinical biobank containing specific types of human biological samples of the highest quality and with detailed clinical follow-up data during the whole course of diseases. Samples and data include long term observations for specifically selected diseases and targeted disease groups. Such disease focused collections are based on the major research interests of cooperating institutions.
The strategic combination of both types of collections in Biobank Graz provides the ideal basis for epidemiological studies as well as allowing scientists to validate biomarkers for the identification of specific diseases and determine response to treatment. Hence, samples can be used for testing and validating strategies for personalised monitoring and treatment or any other research question.
Today, networking and cooperation become more and more important. Therefore, Biobank Graz is an active leading player in (inter) national networks and activities targeting improved interactions between biobanks and scientists to foster internationally successful research. Biobank Graz is member of the ESBB Biobanking Society (www.esbb.org) and ISBER (www.isber.org), the Austrian node of BBMRI (BBMRI.AT, www.bbmri.at) and thus is member of the European network of biobanks BBMRI-ERIC (www.bbmri-eric.eu). Just recently, the headquarters of BBMRI.AT as well as of the European network BBMRI-ERIC have been established in the same building where Biobank Graz is located.
As the largest biobank in Europe, Biobank Graz was one of the leading biobanks fostering the development of the European biobanking network BBMRI-ERIC.
Today, the greatest challenge for national and international biobanking networks is to set up standards and to achieve harmonisation regarding high level sample and data quality combined with an ethical, legally adjusted environment. Biobanks need to explore their economic justification, perform effective reporting and quantify economic and often non-profit performance. Common standards need to be defined on a high rather than low level and hence, only few biobanks may be able to join such high-standard networks. Supra-regional biobanks such as Biobank Graz mostly meet international standards and thus will add innovative implementations to the field of maintaining sample and data quality.
Professor Berthold Huppertz, PhD
Director and CEO
Medical University of Graz
Tel: +43 316 385 72716