The Italian node of BBMRI has been established as a result of a joint effort by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of University & Research. It involves the ISS (National Institute of Health), CNR, 18 Universities, 22 IRCCS, institutions for hospitalisation and care closely linked to translational research, and 8 patient associations. BBMRI-IT has two main goals: to provide new common services for the community of the Italian biobanks and to contribute to the pan-European research infrastructure BBMRI-ERIC.
BBMRI-IT includes 90 biobanks/biological resource centres/collections organised in thematic networks and regional networks with a matrix architecture. Population biobanks and pathology, genetic or disease-oriented biobanks are characterised by their collections of biological samples, such as blood, tissues or DNA, plus the associated epidemiological, clinical and research data. These may be important research tools for the identification of new targets for therapy and may help in drug discovery and development. BioBank Specimen Archives have large collections of well-documented, up-to-date clinical and biological information samples, are supplied with the molecular genomic resources and have links to epidemiological and healthcare information. These can support retrospective studies and accelerate research progress. A survey has been designed to assess and select well-established Italian biobanks in terms of the quality and richness of their samples and data and to identify biobanks that can provide services to members of the BBMRI network. Indeed, the Italian node has specific scientific skills that it can share with the other national nodes in the areas of informatics, molecular analysis in archive tissues and ELSI.