BBMRI-NL2.0 has received € 9.8 million to build a national infrastructure that integrates the full range of biobanking and population imaging activities in the Netherlands. Such a national biobank infrastructure will enable ground-breaking biomedical research, resulting in the development and delivery of better diagnostics and therapeutics, new life style interventions and other ways to prevent disease. The infrastructure will ensure the leading position of the Netherlands in this area of international science is maintained and enhanced.
Biobanks are collections of samples, data and images of individuals taken at different stages of their lives, either when they are ill or when they are healthy. Participants have agreed to take part in health-checks or population health studies and/or patients have explicitly or implicitly (informed opt out) consented to their data, images and samples being collected in a biobank. Biobanks are a vital source of information for fundamental and translational biomedical research aimed at the precision medicine, i.e. the development of better predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory (4P) health care.
Historically, Dutch biobanks were developed independently; based on, for example, research interest, local or regional activities, or clinical discipline. Today, in the era of genomics and modern imaging, there is an urgent need to interconnect the extremely valuable information held in biobanks through a large-scale, standardized biobank infrastructure to avoid redundancy, create efficient research workflows, streamline and facilitate data access, and optimally link various sorts of data.
Such a national biobank infrastructure will enable efficient health monitoring, validation of life style interventions and other ways to prevent disease, deliver better diagnostics and therapeutics, and expand the leading position of the Netherlands in international biomedical research. An overarching large-scale biobank infrastructure is also essential to help generate the evidence base required by registration and reimbursement authorities to assess the impact/quality/cost-benefit ratio of screening programs, medications and treatments.
The Netherlands is currently one of the world-leaders in biobanking with respect to its number of biobanks, the different types of biobanks (both clinical and population), the amount of material held by them, and its internationally acknowledged expertise. More than 5% of Dutch citizens actively participate in biobanks. In recent years, several important nationwide initiatives have been undertaken to organize and professionalize biobanking, including the String of Pearls Institute (PSI), the European Population Imaging Infrastructure (EPI2), and the Translational Research IT project of the Centre for Translational Molecular Medicine (CTMM-TraIT).
BBMRI-NL (Biobanking and BioMolecular Research Infrastructure Netherlands) was established to align, connect, complement and enrich biobanks, and to lay the groundwork for a robust national biobank facility. The first phase of BBMRI-NL (BBMRI-NL1.0; 2009-2015) was highly successful and united >200 Dutch biobanks (population and clinical), jointly containing materials and data from >900,000 individuals, 13 million biobanked samples, and a wide spectrum of accessory data. It laid the foundation for a well-organized national biobanking infrastructure for Dutch biomedical research for collecting, managing and distributing data, samples and imaging for personalized medicine and health research.
BBMRI-NL is the Dutch hub of the BBMRI ERIC (BBMRI European Research Infrastructure Consortium) and is closely aligned with major European initiatives and Grand Challenges in the European Framework programme (e.g. Healthy Aging in Horizon 2020), and national initiatives, like the Life Sciences & Health top sector.
With the recent complementary initiatives of EPI2 and CTMM-TraIT and major extra funding for data collection in specific sub-populations (notably the Deltaplan Dementia), the time has come to make the next decisive step towards a truly nationally integrated NL Biobank Research Facility with the initiation of BBMRI-NL2.0. In the future, biobanking will increasingly be integrated with clinical care to warrant the full potential of precision medicine. BBMRI-NL 2.0 will allow biomedical researchers to contribute to precision medicine by providing standards for linking and harmonizing diverse data sets, tools for coordinated access to biomedical resources, long-term storage of biomaterials, technologies, standards and know-how, and cutting-edge IT systems for integrative data analysis.
BBMRI-NL2.is already bringing together Dutch biobanks and imaging collections that are among the largest in Europe, by building on proven success and extensive expertise in the compilation and analysis of such extensive datasets. BBMRI-NL2.0 is also in the process of fully integrated access for researchers of biobank data to investigate e.g. how genetic and environmental factors contribute to chronic diseases. The research results from BBMRI-NL2.0 will drive new and improved ways to diagnose and predict disease, and highlight factors critical to disease prevention, healthy ageing or optimal development, and thus to the quality of life. It will cement the Netherlands leading position in biobank-based biomedical research.
In 2016 BBMRI-NL, EATRIS-NL, and DTL/ELIXIR-NL joined forces and developed a common vision and roadmap on how The Netherlands can set further course for a comprehensive Nation-wide Personalized Medicine & Health Research infrastructure: <b>Health Research Infrastructure (Health-RI)</b>. The goal is to bundle and connect a wide range of resources including the BBMRI-NL aligned biobanks, IT-technologies, facilities and data collections into one large-scale research infrastructure. With its content ranging from genes, molecules and images to their clinical cognates, Health-RI will provide a unique repository of integrated data that optimally prepares the Netherlands for implementation of precision medicine and precision health for every Dutch citizen, while enhancing quality and reproducibility of research. Health-RI will make BBMRI-NL2.0 a highly visible and attractive partner for international collaborations, including Horizon 2020.