In Finland health research that produces and utilises genomic data largely takes place within biobanks. Biobanks collect and store biological samples for research purposes. There are ten biobanks in Finland, which have been officially established within the biobanking legal framework. They operate in connection with the University Hospital Districts, Universities, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), the Blood Service and Terveystalo. The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira), oversees and monitors biobank activities and maintains the national biobank register.
The goal is to harmonize biobanks’ operations and to provide research activities through a single point of service.
In 2017, the hospital districts and universities founded a joint service unit by the name Finnish Biobank Cooperative, FINBB. The intention is that individual biobanks will continue their operations, but that in the future, the cooperative will perform some of the functions, and provide the one-stop-shop service model for both academic and industry driven research collaboration. This will make it possible for academic and commercial researchers and product development to access biobanks’ sample collections in a centralized manner. FINBB will also cooperate closely with the genome centre and other centres of excellence. In the future, all public biobanks in Finland will be encouraged to join the FINBB.
Drafting of the Biobank Act
The Biobank Act as a whole will be reformed. The reform will pay attention to the needs for change identified by the steering group on biobank legislation, to the amendments required under the General Data Protection Regulation, and to the needs for change resulting from the establishment of the biobank consortium.
Biobank legislation, Sandra Liede and the working group