The Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu represents Estonia in the organisation that connects European biobanks
Nine European countries have established a scientific infrastructure in order to increase the effectiveness and quality of biomedical research. The University of Tartu was selected to be the Estonian coordinator of Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure — European Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMRI-ERIC) and the director of the Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu, Andres Metspalu was elected as the leader of the Estonian node.
BBMRI gathers information about different biobanks and biomolecular resources centres. "Data gathered in biobanks has become an increasingly important resource when conducting scientific research, helping to understand how genetic information affects individuals, their development, aging, well-being and diseases, but also human behaviour and psychology, taking into consideration the environmental and lifestyle changes," says Andres Metspalu, the Director of the Genome Center.
A common scientific infrastructure in the form of BBMRI-ERIC assures safe access to clinical databases, facilitating scientific research and promoting international cooperation in biotechnology, medicine as well as in pharmaceutical industry. "For instance, it helps to solve challenges that the health care systems of the European countries have to face in relation to the ageing of population," stated Metspalu.
"The participation of Estonian scientists in BBMRI consortium grants them access to the most up-to-date scientific and technological results in this interdisciplinary field and vice versa — allows them to implement the knowledge created here in international scientific space in Europe. I do hope that as a result of this, even more acknowledged scientists find their way to the University of Tartu," added Marco Kirm, the Vice Rector for Research in the University of Tartu.
BBMRI-ERIC was founded last week in Gratz, Austria. In addition to Estonia, national centres of Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Greece, Malta, the Netherlands and Sweden also joined the consortium. The total number of countries who participated in the establishment process was 14. On behalf of Estonia, the Ministry of Education and Research coordinated the establishment process.
The Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu has created a database of health and gene data and family trees of Estonians, i.e., a population-based biobank, which includes data from approximately 5% of Estonian adult population. The aim of the Genome Centre is to implement the results of scientific work in everyday life in order to introduce the principles of personal medicine in Estonia.
Additional information: Andres Metspalu, Director of the Estonian Genome Center, tel: +372 737 5066, +372 506 3088, e-mail: andres [ät] ebc.ee;
Annely Allik, Manager of Communication of the Estonian Genome Center, tel: +372 737 4037, +372 502 9970, e-mail: annely.allik [ät] ut.ee.