Andres Metspalu



Professor Andres Metspalu

Title of Presentation

Basic principles for setting up a biobank

Date and Place

Session A3

Speaker Biography

Andres Metspalu, full professor of Biotechnology and Director of the Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu, was graduated from the University of Tartu in 1976 with MD, received PhD in 1979. He was as a postdoc at Colombia University and Yale University in 1981-1982. His main scientific interests are human genomics, genetics of complex diseases and population based biopanks and application of the precision medicine in health care. He has published more than 300 papers and chapters in international peer review journals and books. H-index: 52.

He is one of the founders and directors of the P3G Consortium of Biobanks (Montreal). 2010 he elected to the Estonian Academy of Sciences. He has supervised 19 Ph.D. theses. He is serving in several national and international committees (ERC, Science Europe), editorial boards and has received among other awards and honors the Order of the Estonian Red Cross 3rd Class and L’Ordre des Palmes Academiques from the Republic of France. From 2010 he was awarded Doctor Honoris Causa from Vilnius University.


There are published guidelines and principles from BBMRI, P3G Consortium and OECD etc., but using my experience there are few topics to keep in mind if a new biobank will be started.

  1. Study design – for what you like to use your biobank?  Is it for research, clinical use (personalized medicine?) or both? Will it be as a collection of the samples for others to use (like a library), will it be a longitudinal study itself, etc.?
  2. Legal and ethical landscape must be clear (biobanking law, informed consent, data protection, patients rights, etc.)
  3. Funding is always a problem, and even more for the longitudinal, long-term effort with short term funding instruments.

I’ll discuss these topics using the Estonian Biobank and few others as examples.