The Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI) was one of the first projects entering the European Research Infrastructure preparatory phase of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap, a strategic instrument that aims at overcoming the limits due to fragmentation of individual policies and that provides Europe with the most up-to-date research infrastructures funded by the European Commission (EC).
BBMRI.be was set up in order to support the ever-increasing need of research with regard to quality control, access, transparency and interconnectedness of biobanks. The Belgian involvement in the pan-European biobanking project BBMRI is guaranteed thanks to the annual membership contribution, on Mr. Philippe Courard’s initiative, by BELSPO and the appointment of the Belgian National Node Coordinator by the Belgian Minister for Social affairs and Public Health.
The scientific participation of Belgium in BBMRI-ERIC is exerted by a national node, hosted at the Belgian Cancer Registry, which collaborates closely with the central executive management office of BBMRI-ERIC in Graz, Austria. The Board of Directors of BBMRI.be, chaired by the President of BBMRI.be (Prof. S. Bekaert) is responsible for the development and implementation of the strategic vision of BBMRI.be. The scientific and administrative management of the National Node of BBMRI.be is coordinated by the National Node Director (A. Debucquoy).
The scientific participation of Belgium in BBMRI-ERIC was initiated by uniting the three existing Belgian network biobank initiatives i.e. Belgian Virtual Tumourbank project assigned to the Belgian Cancer Registry (BVT-BCR), Biothèque de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (BWB) and the Flemish Biobank Network (CMI). Together, this network connects 13 biobanks that are linked to public institutions such as hospitals, universities and research centers. All these biobanks and networks are also included in the Directory of BBMRI-ERIC.
From 2013-2019, BBMRI.be has matured into a solid partner network on biobanks in Belgium and has proven to reach out to a broader community beyond the founding partners. From 2019 onwards, BBMRI.be invites all Belgian biobanks with translational research potential as well as biobank users that are seeking structural research collaborations with the BBMRI.be network to join the BBMRI.be network.