Crystal blue butterflies mingled with marble arches, whale skeletons, and golden awnings as discussions of data sharing and biobank advances echoed off the walls of the Antwerp Zoo, attached to the venue for Europe Biobank Week 2018.
Amongst the backdrop of eclectic zoo animals, a variety of individuals from different industries came together to discuss this year’s theme, Biosharing for Scientific Discovery. Attendees included a powerful combination of biobanking experts, scientists, policymakers, patient representatives, sponsoring partners and members of the wider scientific community.
To participate in discussions around data sharing and security in a global biobank network, BC Platforms hosted a workshop at this event, highlighting the topic of Enabling Discovery with a Global Biobank Network. This event sparked conversation which brought out some key points related to the current state of the biobanking industry.
The workshop began by highlighting industry challenges faced by biobanks, mainly those surrounding secure data governance and sharing across institutions. Biobanks stand as scientific excellence, yet there are still strides to be made in gaining exposure to partnerships and funding, maintaining sustainability and finding a safe environment for collaboration and data sharing.
Given these challenges, global leaders in the field spoke at the event in collaboration with BC Platforms to address the need for a system of secure data sharing across institutions. Thus, the concept of a global biobank network was introduced.
Dr. Phil Quinlan, Head of Digital Research Service at University of Nottingham, addressed the UK Biobank approaches and experiences with data sharing, highlighting the importance of international collaboration and research across institutions.
Dr. Tõnu Esko, Vice Director at the Institute of Genomics at University of Tartu, shared the Estonian Biobank experiences with BC Platforms solutions in the context of creating a balance in industry partnership and controlled data sharing.
Overall, the theme was clear: the field is moving towards a more open data approach, with industry collaborations encouraged to benefit both sides and support research and medical advances.
We see a general shift towards more collaborations, business and biobank partnerships, and a definite demand for the global biobank network that BC Platforms has developed.