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Cyprus and the State of Qatar have been officially confirmed as members of the Biobanking and BioMolecular resources Research Infrastructure – European Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMRI-ERIC). Cyprus moved from Observer to full Member and the State of Qatar has joined as an Observer.
Membership was approved by the BBMRI-ERIC Assembly of Members on 22 November 2022 with both countries officially joining the research infrastructure from January 2023.
Cyprus will be represented in the Assembly of Members by the Ministry of Health and its Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy. Dr Carolina Stylianou, Ministry of Health, has been designated as the National Node Coordinator.
The National Node was set up in 2022, as a consortium comprising the Ministry of Health, the biobank.cy Centre of Excellence, the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING) and the Cyprus National Bioethics Committee.
Permanent Secretary of the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Dr. Stelios D. Himonas said:
“We are very pleased that Cyprus has moved to the full membership in BBMRI-ERIC, seven years after we first joined the Research Infrastructure as an Observer country. Researchers and biobankers will continue to have access to IT tools, additional knowledge and customised support services. Our National Node has recently developed an action plan for the next steps and activities to be implemented to make our participation even more rewarding for the biobanking community.”
BBMRI-ERIC’s Director General, Prof. Jens Habermann said:
“We are delighted to welcome both Cyprus and Qatar to BBMRI-ERIC. Over the past few years, BBMRI has closely collaborated with Cyprus through the CY.Biobank project which established the Research and Innovation Center of Excellence for Biobanking and Biomedical Research at the University of Cyprus. This has included supporting Cyprus to develop the norms and procedures required for a state of art biorepository.
We are particularly glad to see the broader national biobanking community joining BBMRI. This common innovation from Cyprus strengthens the BBMRI biobanking landscape.”
Qatar’s observership makes the State, and Qatar Biobank, the first non-European country, and biobank, to join BBMRI-ERIC. Like Cyprus, Qatar Biobank will have access to BBMRI’s specialised knowledge in Quality Management, ELSI, IT tools, and tailor-made guidance that will strengthen the State’s medical research capabilities and support reaching a common goal of precision medicine development.
In turn, BBMRI-ERIC will benefit from fostering an international exchange of knowledge and human biosamples collected and stored in Qatar Biobank, enabling the global research society to better deal with future global health threats and develop treatments for a healthier future.
Commenting on this, Dr Asma Al Thani, Vice Chairperson of Qatar Biobank Board, and new delegate to BBMRI-ERIC’s Assembly of Members, said:
“I am so proud to witness Qatar’s name present among leading countries in the medical research and biobanking fields, through our work and efforts at Qatar Biobank, under the great leadership of Qatar Foundation and the Ministry of Public Health. This is the first time an Arab Middle Eastern country, and a non-European country joins BBMRI-ERIC as an observer or a participant, which reflects Qatar’s position in these fields and how far we’ve reached with our work.”
Dr. Nahla Afifi, Qatar Biobank’s Director, and BBMRI-ERIC National Node Director, added:
“We have been working hand in hand with the BBMRI-ERIC for years now, collaborating on many projects, exchanging knowledge between our local researchers and field experts and theirs, to reinforce Qatar’s position in the biobanking field globally as one of the leaders, and joining the consortium is an assurance that our work in Qatar Biobank with our local stakeholders is well recognised from our international stakeholders and that Qatar’s efforts in the biobank and medical research fields are valuable for the world’s health future.”
Prof. Jens Habermann said:
“We are building on established ties with Qatar and welcome the State’s participation in our Assembly of Members whilst linking Qatar Biobank to a strong EU biobanking community. This was made possible with the steadfast support of Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health.”
BBMRI-ERIC’s support of the Qatar Biobank continues through the Qatar/ESBB convened third International Biobanking Conference taking place this autumn.