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Hospital Universitari Joan XXIII de Tarragona now has a new space for its biobank, the unit that collects and processes biological samples and data related to biomedical research in fields like obesity, metabolic diseases and cardiovascular risks, neurosciences, oncology and hematology, among others. The biobank is linked to the Institut d'Investigació Sanitària Pere Virgili (IISPV).

The new facilities, located on the ground floor of the hospital, occupy 175 square meters divided in different areas: a general laboratory, a sterile work laboratory, a freezer area, a cryogenic area and a coordination office.

Director of the biobank, Dr. Joan Josep Sirvent, explained that in 2009 “we applied to become members of the National Network of Biobanks in a public tender held by the Carlos III Health Institute, in which the hospital received a positive resolution.” The funding, which has been renewed for 2011, has allowed us to add another person to the team –which is now made up of five people- and purchase the rest of the equipment we needed.

The biobank has processed 3,704 samples over the past three years both from the Hospital Joan XXIII and from other Catalan hospital centers. This year alone they have already processed 255 samples.

These improvements have motivated the team to face new challenges like putting in a bid to hold the second congress of the National Network of Biobanks, which they won and will thus welcome some 300 national and foreign professionals in Tarragona on 21 and 22 October.

The Tarragona biobank has a long history of collaborating on a variety of projects with biobanks from the network, including the National DNA Bank–Metabolic Area, the CIBERdem biobank, the CIBERobn Fatbank, the CIBERres lung tissue bank and the Catalan Network of Tumor Banks.

History of the ‘Tarragona biobank’

Biomedical research requires human samples, either from patients or blood donors, in order to learn more about the origin and evolution of diseases and work to advance in diagnosis and treatment in order to improve quality of life. This activity is regulated by the Biomedical Research Act 14/2007, which lays out a series of requirements, both regarding informed consent to obtain samples from donors and in relation to their use and preservation by the scientific community.

In 2003, “One of the research groups at the Hospital,” remembers Dr. Sirvent, “posed the idea of creating a bank of samples to cover the needs of our research projects and guarantee the quality of the samples and their traceability.” Taking advantage of the Network of biochemical and molecular bases related to the pathology associated with insulin resistance funded by the Government of Catalonia, they began to create a bank of biological samples to study type 2 diabetes and obesity, which was called BaseDiab.

BaseDiab motivated different researchers to request that this new structure manage their samples.

Finally, in May 2007, after BaseDiab had already taken over management of nearly all the collections used in research and seeing that the Biomedical Research Act was to be passed shortly, "the Research Committee for our hospital decided to create a biobank to substitute BaseDiab, which would encompass management of all biological samples used for research.”

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