Berthold Huppertz



Prof., PhD Berthold Huppertz

Title of Presentation

Biobank Graz as a show-case for the integration of sample and data flow of a clinical biobank into the hospital environment


Date and Place

Session: C5


Speaker Biography

Prof. Berthold Huppertz is the Director and CEO of Biobank Graz, the largest clinical biobank in Europe. Biobank Graz is a publicly owned and certified (ISO 9001:2008) organization located at Medical University of Graz (Austria). Biobank Graz focuses on offering specialized scientific services, infrastructure, and technologies to fostering personalized medicine and therapies – and was awarded Research Biobank of the Year in 2014 by ESBB. For more than 20 years Professor Huppertz has worked in reproductive biology and medicine, developing new concepts of disease development and validating new biomarkers for the prediction of pregnancy pathologies. He has published over 160 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, works in the editorial boards of a number of journals and is member of the executive committee of IFPA, the International Federation of Placenta Associations. In 2011 Berthold has taken over the lead at Biobank Graz to maintain and increase the significance of Biobank Graz and to integrate it into international biobanking networks. Today Berthold is moving Biobank Graz towards automation to maintain highest sample quality.



Clinical biobanks strongly depend on the routine settings of the hospitals they are embedded in. This is true for the routes of samples from collection to storage as well as for the routes of data collection and storage. For samples, there are two main routes of collection and transport, the one for tissues is mostly going via pathology departments and the one for fluid samples is mostly going via laboratory medicine and the central laboratory of the hospital. For data, there is entry of data from all clinical departments associated to a hospital, finally stored in a central clinical data system.
As a central research facility of Medical University of Graz, Biobank Graz is not linked to any department or clinic of the university or hospital but is independently cooperating with all clinics and departments. Of course, the closest links of cooperation can be found with pathology and laboratory medicine.
Sample flow from the clinics to pathology and the central laboratory are controlled by the hospital, while sample flow is controlled by Biobank Graz as soon as they reach the sphere of influence of the biobank. Quality and retrieval of samples from long term storage is assured at Biobank Graz through the use of semi and fully automated systems for storage.
This is different with data storage and access. With the sample Biobank Graz receives a minimal data set including the clinic sending the sample, date, gender and age of donor as well as primary diagnosis. All other clinical data is stored in the central clinical data system of the hospital. Biobank Graz only stores numbers and codes but no direct person-related data. Only when samples and a respective data set are requested for research, Biobank Graz asks its internal data trustee to retrieve the respective clinical data related to the samples of interest from the clinical data system. This separation of samples and data has guaranteed non-linkage of data and samples. However, due to delay in retrieving data, this scenario is currently under evaluation.