A biobank is a collection of samples used for research.


In some cases the collection is available for researchers to use outside of the institution where the biobank was set up. For example, the UKBiobank obtained samples from half a million volunteers aged between 40 and 69 and has now supported over 300 projects from around the world since the collection was completed in 2010.


In the UK research biobanks must hold a licence from the Human Tissue Authority to ensure that they have valid consent in place for the collection of samples and that storage facilities are of a good standard. 



The use of samples is overseen by the Health Research Authority, as described above. A biobank may apply to have Research Ethics Committee (REC) approval for their collection, allowing them to distribute samples without additional external review, as long as they keep within the scope approved by the REC and submit an annual report which describes how the quality of each application to use samples was assessed. The HRA has published a list of REC approved biobanks


For a short video about a typical biobank please click here


What is a biobank?