Covid-19 Pandemic Process and Biobanks

Dr. Sanem Tercan Avci and Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey from iBG-Biobank and Biomolecular Resources Platform has prepared an article on the importance of biobanks in the pandemic process within the scope of Tübitak Covid-19 web portal Scientific Research Sharing Platform.

You can find this article here:

BBMRI-ERIC Quality Management Team organised two informative and comprehensive webconferences which focused on the main topic; “Biobanking in times of Covid-19”

On April 1st, a webconference titled “Biobanking in times of Covid-19, risks and opportunities for biobanks” organized by Andrea Wutte, head of BBMRI-ERIC quality management service, took place with participation of Maurice Bradsley (EVA-GLOBAL), Petr Holub (BBMRI Directory & Negotiator of Covid-19), Helmuth Haslacher, ( Quality Manager), Andrea Ganna-Mark Daly (Institute for Molecular medicine Finland, University of Helsinki).

Questions addressed about the risks and opportunities of biobanks during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemia, included;

  • Are biobanks prepared to collect samples from COVID19 patients?
  • What is the risk and which opportunities come with it?
  • Does your biobank have permission to process and store COVID-19 samples for research purposes?
  • How is the chain of health safety conditions and regulations handled in your biobank?
  • Do we unite in our approaches to collect COVID-19 samples?
  • How fast can this be done?

On April 7th, a second webconference titled by “Biobanking in times of Covid-19, pre-analytical procedures”organized by Andrea Wutte, head of BBMRI-ERIC quality management service, took place with participation of Lukasz Kozera (Scientific Programme Manager at BBMRI-ERIC), Helmuth Haslacher ( Quality Manager), Antonino Di Caro (UOC Microbiology Laboratory and Biological Bank National Institute for Infectious Diseases IRCCS).

The main topics and questions addressed about the pre-analytical procedures included;

  • Types of samples that biobank may store, sample life cycle. 
  • Presence of virüs in different types of samples. 
  • Laboratory standards for Sars-CoV-2 suspected samples. 
  • How biobanks can deal with Sars-CoV-2samples?
  • Who should care about Covid-19? 
  • What should be taken into account when performing biobanking during the Covid-19 pandemic? 
  • How could a risk analysis be performed? 

For records, presentations and Q&A you can visit:

The 10th Surgical Research Congress, CAK 2019

The 10th Surgical Research Congress was held by the Turkish Surgical Society on 13-14 December 2019 in Malatya, which was attended by national coordinator Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey and IBG-Biobank and Biomolecular Resources director Dr. Sanem Tercan Avcı. The congress emphasized the importance of raising the awareness of clinicians and surgeons on biobanking, as well as the significance of biobanking in cancer research. Dr. Sanem Tercan Avcı delivered a speech at the congress  titled “Biobanking in cancer research and its importance in medical research”. In addition, the importance of the standardization, harmonization and sharing of sample and associated data under the guidance of BBMRI-ERIC and ISO-20387-Biobank standard was emphasised. information day: “The Role of Biobanks in Medical Research and European Research Infrastructures: BBMRI-ERIC”

On November 22, 2019, Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey, national coordinator of, gave a seminar titled “The Role of Biobanks in Medical Research and European Research Infrastructures: BBMRI-ERIC” on the campus of İzmir Katip Çelebi University Faculty of Medicine. The seminar was attended by the provincial health director, the chief physician of the hospital and the former rector of the university. As a result of this seminar, biobank awareness was raised and the significance of biobanks in research was explained. Moreover,  the positive effects of BBMRI-ERIC guided harmonization on both research quality and the national economy was underlined.

Health Institutes of Turkey (TÜSEB) project: Applied Projects in the Field of Personalised and Translational Medicine

In August 2019, the Health Institutes of Turkey (TÜSEB) opened a call for “Applied Projects in the Field of Personalised and Translational Medicine”.  Two projects which the team contributed to (Biological Sampling for Neurological, Metabolic and Degenerative Diseases; The Turkey HCC Biobank and Its Molecular Characteristics) have been accepted.

Rare Diseases Research Information Day

In order to establish a comprehensive and sustainable rare diseases research ecosystem in our country, Rare Diseases Research Information Day was held on June 11, 2019 by TÜBİTAK’s Bilateral and Multilateral Relations Department at Acibadem University Kerem Aydınlar Campus / Istanbul, ACURare. The national coordinator of Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey delivered a speech titled “European Research Infrastructures: BBMRI-ERIC Rare Diseases Program”.

3rd Cukurova Hepatocellular Carcinoma Congress

The 3rd Çukurova Hepatocellular Carcinoma Congress was held between 23-25 February 2019 in Adana. A workshop was organised with the participation of the TKAD Hepatobiliary Cancer Study Group to promote the Turkey HCC Biobank project and create a roadmap. Prof. Dr. Nese ATABEY, the national coordinator of, gave a presentation titled “The Role of Biobanks in Cancer Research and the Turkey HCC Genome Project”. As a result of the workshop, the implementation of the Turkey HCC Biobanking and Turkey HCC Genome Project in 2019 was identified as the main target.


An international workshop on “Biobanking for Rare Diseases” and a symposium on “Bridging Biobanks in MENA Countries to Promote Research and Healthcare” took place in Izmir, Turkey between 2-4 May 2018.

Both meetings were funded by the “Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Infrastructure in European Research Infrastructures” (BBMRI-ERIC) through its European Commission Horizon 2020 project “BBMRI-ERIC-ADOPT”, and were organized by, the Turkish node of BBMRI. 

The event hosted by IBG (Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center) brought together a total of 132 participants and experts from 14 different countries. These meetings aim to establish and strengthen existing collaborative biobanking networks in MENA countries, as well as to facilitate their integration with pan-European counterparts.

The symposium started with the welcome speech of Prof. Mehmet Ozturk, director of IBG, and Prof. Nese Atabey, national coordinator of In the first session, experts from BBMRI-ERIC shared their knowledge on critical aspects of biobanking such as principles of biobanking in human biospecimens, ethical concepts, quality management systems and database management security for biobanks. In the afternoon session, Rania Labib (Egypt), Imane Cherkaoui (Morocco), Maher Sughayer (Jordan), Ada Al-Qunaibet (Saudi Arabia), Sibel Ugur Iseri (Turkey), Said Ismail (Qatar), Yosr Hamdi (Tunisia) shared their experiences on the establishment of a modern biobank. 


Day 2 started with problem-based learning (PBL) sessions. With the guidance of their tutors and using published papers and guidelines to aid them, 5 different groups of 10 participants discussed some examples of challenges biobanks face, as well as the management of potential risks related to quality control, ethics and disasters on real-life cases.

In the afternoon session, speakers with expertise in different areas talked about the real workflow in a biobank and shared their experiences on taking informed consent, sample registration and processing, quality management and the access and distribution of samples. iPSC biobanking, cancer organoids and Patient Derived Xenograft (PDX) models used in drug discovery were among the most inspiring and interesting talks of the day. 


The symposium started with the welcome speech of Prof. Murat Ozgoren, ESFRI delegate of Turkey. Then, Prof. Ozgoren gave a joint interactive speech with Dr. Dominic Sobczak, ESFRI Executive Secretary, via videoconference about the networks of national and international research infrastructures, funds for projects and establishment strategies that gained wide interest from participants. This was followed by an inspiring speech by Prof. Kurt Zatloukal, BBMRI-Austria, about the impact of digital pathology on biobanking. In the afternoon session, experts from different regions of the MENA shared experiences on their national genome projects. 

In the final session, the establishment of a MENA biobanking network was discussed. The panelists addressed some critical questions such as which field the Consortium should primarily focus on, which funding sources could be used, and so on. The consensus was that it is essential to create a BBMRI-MENA Consortium, and that future efforts should focus on its planning.

Second BBMRI-tr multicenter meeting

The second BBMRI-tr multicenter meeting was hold in IBG-Izmir at July, 23.2015. Professor Meral ÖZGÜÇ from Hacettepe University Medical School gave the seminar about the biobanking in Hacettepe University.

Professor Meral ÖZGÜÇ is pioneer scientist of the research and discovery work of biobanking in turkey that led to the understanding of the most suitable way to establish biobanking network in turkey. Professor Meral Özgüç has 84SCI articles in the area of Human Genetics/Genomics/Rare Diseases with 1832 citations.She is member of Euroean,Middle Eastern and African Society for Biopreservation, Biobanking (ESBB), National Board member of The European Association for Predictive,Preventive & Personalised Medicine (EPMA) and Public Population Project in Genomics-P3G.
Hacettepe University Medical School was established in 1967 on the foundations of a pediatric hospital that began operating in 1957. Due to its high rate of consanguinity, Turkey has an pportunity to offer scientific contributions in the field of genomics of autosomal recessive diseases by defining new phenotypes and identifying new genes and relevant pathways. Against this background, funding was obtained from the Technological Development Fund of Turkey (TTGV) in 1995 with financial support through a grant from the World Bank to establish a biobank for rare diseases. Between 1995 and 2006, the Bank was supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey and since that date the infrastructure is sustained by Hacettepe University. Families are referred to the biobank after clinical examination by respective departments. A document of medical and personal information together with the informed consent form accompanies samples, signed by the medical attendee and the principle medical doctor responsible for the unit. By 2013,the biological registry holds a total number of DNA samples (31.000) from 5700 families and 1200 cells/tissues (lymphoblastoid cell lines, fibroblast, muscle, brain and other biopsy specimens). The main contributions to the DNA registry are neurological (46%), metabolic (19%), nephrological (15%), gastroenterological (9%), immunological/haematological (5%), chest diseases (3%) and dermatological disorders (3%). The repository of the DNA/Cell Bank has facilitated collaborations leading to the identification of new disease genes.

During the seminar, Professor Meral ÖZGÜÇ introduce the biobanking history, development, and the critical points to establish the biobanking worknet. Professor Neşe Atabey introduced the BBMRI, the duty of national nodes, the fellowing plan of BBMRI-tr, and the difficult we face currently. Professor Mehmet ÖZTÜRK attent the meeing.

First BBMRI-tr meeting

The first BBMRI-tr multicenter meeting was hold in IBG-Izmir at May.29.2015. It brings together specialists in molecular pathology, genetics, medicine, computer engineering.

Prof.Dr.Ugur Ozbek is the director of Institute of Experimental Medicine (DETAE) in Istanbul university. He is a a pioneer scientist in biobanking in turkey. He started the first rare disease biobanking in Turkey, who have sufficent experiences on national and International policy of biobanking, ethical and legal and social Issues of biobanking in Turkey.

After an introductory tour at iBG-izmir facilities and labs, and biobanking facility, Professor Neşe Atabey introduced the BBMRI, the duty of national nodes, and the fellowing plan of BBMRI-tr. Professor Ugur Ozbek made a presentation about the biobank in DETAE, the structure, the database and the ethics issues. Assist. Prof. Can Küçük, Yavuz Oktay and Dr Izgi Kanat attended the meeting and reported their appropriate work.

It was agreed to hold such meetings regularly to share information and experience at the end of the meeting.