Swedish researchers first in the world to gain access to the Biobank Information Management System (BIMS)

Owing to the system now being developed at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and that was presented this week at an international conference on biobanks, the university’s biobank will now be based on informatics as well as tissue and blood samples. The system will enable researchers to seek biobank samples linked to the vast databases of phenotype and genotype information on the individual donors and to a variety of other data sources.

The existence of large national epidemiological databases, such as the Swedish twin register, and a large number of tissue sample collections of national importance gives the Karolinska Institutet Biobank a unique position in biobank-related research. Since the information is highly sensitive and authorised data access unacceptable, the biobank system is protected by tight security.

“We’re the first institute in the world with such an informatics system,” says Professor Jan-Eric Litton of the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “Other prominent medical centres like the Mayo Clinic in the USA are also developing similar systems.”

The establishment of the BIMS informatics system is a strategic investment at KI to support and enable future advanced clinical research. It makes it easier to find causes, diagnostic tools and cures for diseases by allowing more research scientists and research fields to make use of huge amounts of connectable data; something which will be of immense value to the next generation of research scientists.

“The main advantage is that researchers can save time and access information without having to be specialists in the area,” says Professor Litton. “So in other words they can search in English in all databanks and get comprehensible responses.”

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