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Dutch Government Grants $33.6M for Biobanking Initiative

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Netherlands government has granted €22.5 million ($33.6 million) to a consortium of health research groups to establish a biobanking infrastructure that will integrate and enrich existing clinical samples and data, Leiden University Medical Center said today.

The Grant from the Dutch Ministry of Education, through the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, will create the Dutch hub of the European Biobanking and BioMolecular Research Infrastructure (BBMRI-NL).

The Netherlands participants include eight university medical centers and several other research institutes.

According to the university, biobanking is a "high priority" for the Dutch national roadmap for research infrastructure, and an evaluation committee has recommended extending the funding after the initial three-year grant period.

The clinical materials that the BBMRI-NL will integrate in the biobank have been collected over decades, and their research utility has been impeded by varying data description and overview practices. This project will attempt to improve the accessibility, harmonization, and enrichment of this biological and clinical data, and it will harmonize privacy protection regulations.

"The existing materials are often of high value and quality, but underused because of fragmentation," Professor Gert-Jan van Ommen, of Leiden University Medical Center's Department of Human Genetics, said in a statement.

"Diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer, arthritis and cancer have complex causes, so thousands of samples are necessary in order to reveal significant differences between health and disease," van Ommen added.

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