A biobank is a type of biorepository that stores biological samples (usually human) for use in research. Biobanks have become an important resource in medical research, supporting many types of contemporary research like genomics and personalized medicine.
Biobanks can give researchers access to data representing a large number of people. Samples in biobanks and the data derived from those samples can often be used by multiple researchers for cross purpose research studies. For example, many diseases are associated with single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Genome-wide association studies using data from tens or hundreds of thousands of individuals can identify these genetic associations as potential disease biomarkers. Many researchers struggled to acquire sufficient samples prior to the advent of biobanks.
Biobanks have provoked questions on privacy, research ethics, and medical ethics. Viewpoints on what constitutes appropriate biobank ethics diverge. However, a consensus has been reached that operating biobanks without establishing carefully considered governing principles and policies could be detrimental to communities that participate in biobank programs.