The Flemish biobank infrastructure includes four decentral biobank facilities within the University Hospitals (including a smaller one at Hasselt University): dedicated premises (>200 m2), equipment and with appropriate monitoring of liquid nitrogen storage and/or -80°C freezers (>25,000L capacity per center). In addition, quality systems were implemented and standard operating procedures (SOPs) introduced.
All centers have acquired a Biobank Information Management System (BIMS) to set up an ICT backbone related to biological samples to meet two aims:
- Aggregate in a local database, annotations of samples as well as patient’s clinical and analytical data. This database will be used in the scope of specific research projects to aggregate data from different centers, fostering the collaborative projects.
- Extract a minimum data set (MDS) to construct a Flemish catalogue of clinical and research data.
The investment made by the Flemish Biobank Initiative leveraged the investment by the academic centers involved in harmonizing data and the interoperability of databases. Within the setting of the previous IT-project the last technical issues are being settled in order to activate the catalogue function. The website function is already active although it is still rather basic and needs improvement. The MDS, used in the catalogue can be uploaded (after having solved the remaining minor technical issues).
An ICT backbone and central catalogue connects the decentral databases linked to the individual biobanks and interfacing through website and catalogue.