A functional biobank is highly dependent on the collaboration of healthcare professionals and researchers, along with other biobank professionals. However, there may be some hindering barriers on the involvement of clinicians in biobank operations; such as lack of awareness, time and financial constraints, potential difficulties in the communication with patients and obtaining informed consents. Regarding this, one of the most effective way to enhance biobank practices may be increasing the awareness of current and future healthcare practitioners, especially clinicians, on biobanking.
With the aim of raising awareness on biobanking and enhancing biobank practices in Turkey; IBG-Biobank, BBMRI.tr and Ege Scientific Research Association (ESRA), which was founded in 1987 and aims to increase the awareness of medical students on research, planned an online course for medical students who are the potential future collaborators of biobanks. The aim of the event was to educate medical students on biobanks, increase their awareness and measure this awareness with validated questionnaires from prior research projects and Eurobarometer surveys.
The online education was held on April 11-12, 2021. Before the event, a biobank awareness survey was sent to medical student networks for pre-evaluation. The major topics on biobanking that were covered on the first day included “Research Biobanks: Fundamentals and Roles in Biomedical Research”, “COVID-19 & Biobanks”, “Research Biobank-IT: Data Integration and Storage”. On the second day; “Ethical Legal Societal Issues (ELSI)”, “International Biobanking Networks and Biobanking in Turkey” topics were discussed in detail. More than 100 medical students from all over Turkey participated in the event. To our delight, the general feedback of the participants was strongly positive; more than 90% of the participants stated that they would certainly recommend the course to their colleagues.
This short biobanking course that aimed to focus on a particular subject and group shows us that such targeted training activities have the potential to be successful in raising awareness on biobanking among healthcare providers. We believe that for the best outcome, it is highly beneficial to schedule these activities in concordance with associations and national bodies, such as medical students’ associations and medical student research groups.