A biobank management model applicable to biomedical research

BMC Medical Ethics 7 (1):1-9 (2006)
Abstract
Background The work of Research Ethics Boards (REBs), especially when involving genetics research and biobanks, has become more challenging with the growth of biotechnology and biomedical research. Some REBs have even rejected research projects where the use of a biobank with coded samples was an integral part of the study, the greatest fear being the lack of participant protection and uncontrolled use of biological samples or related genetic data. The risks of discrimination and stigmatization are a recurrent issue. In light of the increasing interest in biomedical research and the resulting benefits to the health of participants, it is imperative that practical solutions be found to the problems associated with the management of biobanks: namely, protecting the integrity of the research participants, as well as guaranteeing the security and confidentiality of the participant's information. Methods We aimed to devise a practical and efficient model for the management of biobanks in biomedical research where a medical archivist plays the pivotal role as a data-protection officer. The model had to reduce the burden placed on REBs responsible for the evaluation of genetics projects and, at the same time, maximize the protection of research participants. Results The proposed model includes the following: 1) a means of protecting the information in biobanks, 2) offers ways to provide follow-up information requested about the participants, 3) protects the participant's confidentiality and 4) adequately deals with the ethical issues at stake in biobanking. Conclusion Until a governmental governance body is established in Quebec to guarantee the protection of research participants and establish harmonized guidelines for the management of biobanks in medical research, it is definitely up to REBs to find solutions that the present lack of guidelines poses. The model presented in this article offers a practical solution on a day-to-day basis for REBs, as well as researchers by promoting an archivist to a pivotal role in the process. It assures protection of all participants who altruistically donate their samples to generate and improve knowledge for better diagnosis and medical treatment.
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Lars Øystein Ursin (2008). Biobank Research and the Right to Privacy. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 29 (4):267-285.
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