The reconfiguration of biobanks in Europe under the BBMRI-ERIC framework : towards global sharing nodes?

Violeta Argudo-Portal, Miquel Domenech

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Freezers with biospecimen deposits became biobanks and later were networked at the pan-European level in 2013 under the Biobanking and BioMolecular Resources Research Infrastructure-European Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMRI-ERIC). Drawing on document analysis about the BBMRI-ERIC and multi-sited fieldwork with biobankers in Spain from a science and technology studies approach, we explore what biobanks are expected to do and become under the BBMRI-ERIC framework, and how infrastructural transitions promote particular transformations in biobanking practices. The primary purpose of biobanks in Europe is presented as being to become mediators in contemporary biomedical research (global sharing nodes) distribution, and distributed nodes of samples and their associated data. We argue that infrastructural transitions are complicated and heterogeneous, giving rise to unattended local concerns on adjusting their practices to fit into the BBMRI-ERIC framework, even for non-members, as the case of Spain illustrates, where "old practices" of collection and storage are questioned. In this article, we aim to encourage qualitative studies to explore the lags between pan-European policies and prospects, different contextual interpretations, and biobanking reconfigurations as an opportunity to explore what that lag is made of (e.g. tensions with "old practices," unresolved conflicts with the national agendas, reservations on a possible centralization of the biobanking practices by regional biobanks, lack of funding, etc.). Such research could enrich not only policy guidance, but also the understanding of technoscientific infrastructures' scalability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLife Sciences, Society and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Biobanks
  • Europe
  • Infrastructure
  • Global
  • Biomedical research
  • Mediator
  • Spain
  • Network
  • Scalability
  • Science and technology studies (STS)


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