The Flemish Biobank initiative has closely liaised with similar national and regional initiatives in the French-speaking community of Belgium in order to create a national coordination platform – BBMRI.be – that represents Belgium at the European level in BBMRI-ERIC. BBMRI.be was one of the founding members.
Integration of the Flemish networks in BBMRI.be and BBMRI.eu enabled exposure of the existing Flemish scientific excellence in the domain of biobanking and translational research possible in the European platform.
BBMRI.be, the Belgian National node officialized at the Inaugural meeting of the BBMRI ERIC in Graz on 16 September 2013, is a collaborative effort of three existing biobank networks:
- the Belgian Virtual Tumor Bank of the Belgian Cancer Registry (VTB-BCR): this initiative was started in 2007 and funded by the National Cancer Plan 2008-2010 of the Belgian Ministry of Health. Its objectives are to promote biomedical research in Oncology in Belgium via the harmonization of the procedures for tissue collection and handling. It coordinates the tumorbank collections of 12 Belgian University Hospitals and has created an online catalogue that lists samples and clinical data of approx 30,000 cases.
- the Flemish Biobank Initiative (CMI) started collecting and/or registration in late 2014 and coordinates selected biobank collections in the 4 Flemish university hospitals and 5 Flemish universities. It received funding from the Flemish Government to construct a biobanking infrastructure in 2012 and is implementing a central ICT backbone and local biobanking infrastructure in the clinical research centres of the four university hospitals.
- the Association des Biobanques Federation Wallonie Bruxelles (FWB) – Biowin started in 2010 and submitted a strategic and financial plan to the Walloon and Brussels government in 2012. It coordinates biobank collections in the 5 French speaking university hospitals