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United Kingdom
United Kingdom (Member)


The UK joined BBMRI-ERIC in April 2015, and nominated the UKCRC Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre (the Centre) as the UK’s National Node (  The Centre was formed in December 2014 with support from a consortium of UKCRC funders[1]. It is run as a partnership between University College London and the University of Nottingham and its main aim is to provide strong leadership in realising the UKCRC Funders’ Vision for Human Tissue Resources by increasing the quality, visibility and accessibility of the UK’s world-class human tissue and biosample collections for academic and commercial researchers.

The four main areas that will be addressed by the work of the Centre are:

  • discoverability of tissue and data collections;
  • harmonisation of the collection and storage of tissues[2] and data across academia, the NHS and industry;
  • engagement between stakeholders, developing evidence-based approaches to best practice in sample collection, governance and public engagement; and
  • links with European and other international biobanking initiatives such as BBMRI-ERIC.

The initial focus of the Centre will be on biobanking activities within the UK; recruiting biobanks and tissue collections to engage with the Centre’s work and ensuring that its activities are focussed on the needs of the research community.

Four concepts form the foundation of our strategy:

  • to identify the current limitation to optimal biobanking and access to tissues and data amongst a wide range of stakeholders and custodians of research samples;
  • to reach consensus on optimal solutions to those issues;
  • to implement changes through three work streams: informatics, harmonisation[3] and stakeholder engagement; and
  • to evaluate project outputs and identify future needs


[1] British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research UK; Chief Scientist Office (Scotland); Medical Research Council UK; National Institute for Health Research/Department of Health; Health and Social Care Research & Development Division, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland; National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR)/Welsh Government and the Wellcome Trust.

[2] “Tissue” is used to mean any biological sample of human origin, whether or not it contains cells

[3] Harmonisation can be defined as “actions or processes that bring about agreement, reconciliation or standardisation”. Harmonisation implies a high level of co-operation among the involved parties, regardless of different affiliations and viewpoints. It is an approach where different entities agree upon and execute the same or similar procedures and practices to achieve compatible results. In biobanking, harmonisation can be used to obtain interoperable samples and data. Harmonisation can be achieved by establishing agreement regarding the methods and practices used.

Philip Quinlan


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