Funding

Biobank Ireland receives funds from several sectors – from industry, business, philanthropists, and from fundraising events. Grants from biopharmaceutical companies (Amgen, Merck-Serono, Lilly, Sanofi-Aventis, Astra Zeneca, MSD, Pfizer, Novartis, GSK, Janssen, Abbvie, Bayer, Roche, Helsinn-Birex) have helped sponsor salaries of dedicated biobank personnel.

From discussions on costs with the Health Research Board and Science Foundation Ireland, it is clear that Biobank Ireland will not have the resources to develop an Irish Biobank Network. That will require multisector funding, including sustainable funding from institutions, industry and government, as in other countries. The original concept was that the Network would develop organically. However, a more pragmatic approach is one of formal institutional biobanking collaboration, as adopted successfully in Canada and Israel. Governments in those countries contribute funds to support biobanking in established academic institutions that have agreed to network together to adopt a common BIMS (database), an online catalogue, common policies and international biobanking ISO standards.

Biobank Ireland chiefly supports the St James’s Hospital Cancer Biobank (see Governance) and together with partners SJH and TCD is developing a large centralised biobank facility for all researchers on the SJH-TCD campus. This will reduce duplication of effort and will improve research efficiency and ease of collaboration. Detailed plans for this development are ready to be submitted for a planning application. Biobank Ireland is currently in discussion with the Department of Health to develop a legal mechanism to enable research use of archival FFPE tissue and data in research on cancer and other diseases. This would greatly benefit the majority of researchers who increasingly use such samples. It would save resources, and might achieve results that potentially can be translated into improved new treatments and tests for future patients.