Samenwerkingsverband 140 biobanken in Nederland

Speech t.g.v. start BBMRI: samenwerkingsverband 140 biobanken in Nederland
Toespraak | 23-11-2010
Staatssecretaris Zijlstra gaf op maandag 22 november 2010 het startschot voor BBMRI-NL: een samenwerkingsverband van 140 biobanken in Nederland, die lichaamsmateriaal en medische gegevens van ruim 400.000 mensen in hun bestanden hebben.

· First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the official launch of the European Biobanking Initiative: the BBMRI.

· The theme of this meeting is Connecting Biobanks, which sounds simpler than it actually is. Linking biobanks to one another involves dealing not only with technical and infrastructural aspects, but also with legal and ethical ones. After all, we are talking about genetic material and privacy-sensitive data. But it is worth all the effort because biobanks hold the key to the future.

· Our country currently has some 140 biobanks, that the BBMRI would like to link to one another. This would benefit not only scientific research but also clinical work. Moreover, such linking offers opportunities for cooperation with the business community, for example with the pharmaceutical industry.

· The capacity to analyse scientific data ever more quickly is creating an avalanche of information. This applies more to the Life Sciences than to other disciplines due to the much faster equipment for analysing data. The scale of data storage and processing is increasing significantly, and scientific research is becoming ever more international in scope.

· New technologies make it simpler to analyse large amounts of medical data and to link them to various medical conditions. It is therefore no surprise that initiatives for setting up biobanks are springing up everywhere. We have been making significant progress along this path in recent years.

· For example with the FES Parelsnoer project in which 8 University Medical Centers (UMCs) are working together to realise collective clinical biobanks. Or Lifelines, an ambitious biobank set up for research into ageing, made possible by funding from the province and the FES .

· Such initiatives add new impetus to cooperation between medical research centres. Without doing wrong to other parties, you can rest assured that within the BBMRI, Parelsnoer is playing the leading role.

· In addition, Parelsnoer is the project within which University Medical Centres are demonstrating that they can cooperate ever more efficiently within the NFU, the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centres. Such a cooperation is unique in Europe: our country can be justifiably proud of it.

· Stiff competition delivers the best results. Due to this competition, medical research in the Netherlands is top class. At the same time, cooperation has become increasingly more intensive. This bolsters both quality and efficiency. We do not have to repeatedly ask patients for samples. Once is enough: the sample is placed in the biobank and can be accessed by all medical researchers.

· Mutual trust is a condition for cooperation. In this regard, the NFU has laid solid foundations over the past years and the BBMRI can build on these foundations. This cooperation, by the way, is not limited to the public sector; the business community also shows a great deal of interest. That is only logical, because for the business community on its own it would not be feasible to implement fundamental research methods like those currently used by the University Medical Centres.

· The interaction between fundamental, clinical and applied research suits University Medical Centres perfectly. Because, virtually, all the researchers who work here perform their research in clinical practice: this makes for a swift exchange of knowledge and experience.

· Here, too, public-private cooperation is the future. It is for good reason that the Life Sciences are mentioned as an economic priority area, a so called “topgebied”, in the government coalition agreement. The cabinet would like to strengthen the interaction between knowledge, science, applied research and innovation.

· The development of new medicines also benefits from research with biobanks because it enables the scientists to obtain greater and better insight into specific aspects of diseases. For example, the search for a treatment for Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy was rewarded last year with a wonderful result which the business community was able to pick up immediately. Gert-Jan van Ommen, the BBMRI’s director of research, has already been awarded a royal honour for this achievement.

· It will therefore be a privilege and a pleasure for me to perform the official opening of the BBMRI-NL. A wonderful Dutch project that is part of an even larger European initiative: the BBMRI-EU.

· In its turn, that initiative will link together all European biobanks. The Austrian counterpart of the BBMRI-NL is playing an important part in this effort, as are other participating countries. It is good to see that representatives of a great many of the countries involved are present here today.

· In that respect, I would once again like to emphasise how important European cooperation is. The European Union plays a large role in accelerating the progress of this type of project, via the ESFRI roadmap.

· It is good that national and European policy are in seamless alignment. And that the Netherlands can set a good example for Europe with a perfectly organised system of biobanks in the BBMRI.

· Reasons enough to have a festive celebration today. And yet there is always something still to be desired. In this phase, the BBMRI-EU is receiving funding from the 7^th Framework Programme. The logical follow-up would be to apply for ERIC status. I understand that work is currently being done on this.

· I wish you the best of luck with that and with all the good work that you are undoubtedly going to perform. And it is now high time for the official opening.

Zie ook

* Wetenschap | Onderwerp | OCW

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