The term "biobank" first appeared in the late nineties and is a broad term that has evolved in recent years. The descriptions vary from a “freezer” containing samples up to a distinct institution with storage facilities ; quality system ; informatics ; personal ; dedicated management etc..
The Belgian law of 19 December 2008 describes a biobank as “the notified structure that obtains, stores and provides Human Bodily Material (HBM) with or without data for research purposes”. Ten years later the Royal decree (5 January 2018) implemented this law and clarified the practical implications.
As a consequence of the aforementioned legislation, which states that all HBM used for scientific research should be obtained through a notified biobank, all HBM collected and/or used within the scope of scientific research is regulated by law.
Sole notified biobank of the Leuven Health Science Campus
The University and University Hospitals Leuven agreed that the UZ/KU Leuven biobank will act as the sole notified biobank of the Leuven Health Science Campus. Its main mission is to facilitate the aspects related to high-quality sample management, in order to facilitate translational research to improve public health, protect stakeholders’ interests (donors, researchers, UZ/KUL, FAMHP, ...) and ultimately be a knowledge hub for all things biobanking.
Furthermore, it was decided and validated that, since multiple entities/(medical) disciplines/persons are involved in making HBM available for research use, the custodianship of HBM lies with a single entity, i.e. UZ Leuven.
As part of the UZ/KU Leuven biobank governance structure a biobank board was put in place. The task of the UZ/KU Leuven Biobank Board is to give advice and to act as a Board of Governors, creating internal rules and evaluating applications for the use of HBM. The UZ/KU Leuven Biobank Board is constituted by the various stakeholders of the Biobank.
As a result of this policy, any scientific research which includes the collection, storage and/or use of HBM at the Leuven Health Science Campus has to be approved by and registered a.o. with the UZ/KU Leuven Biobank.
The UZ/KU Leuven biobank is committed to the principles of Good Scientific Practice and the applicable (inter)national biobank quality standards. Currently the activities are mainly focused on providing storage solutions. During the COVID-19 pandemia the UZ/KU Leuven Biobank initiated a “common good” biobank of COVID samples (KOOR financed). In the future it is anticipated to expand to sample processing & quality control, as well as improve the integration in existing (clinical) sample flows.