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EBW24 Live
EBW24 Live: A deep dive into the Europe Biobank Week Congress 

EBW24 Live: A deep dive into the Europe Biobank Week Congress 

The Europe Biobank Week (EBW) Congress, jointly organised between BBMRI-ERIC (the European Research Infrastructure for Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources in Health and Life Science) and ESBB (the European, African and Middle Eastern Society for Biobanking and Biopreservation) took place from 14-17 May at The Hofburg Conference Centre in Vienna, Austria. 

The theme of the 2024 congress was: “Strengthening Biobanks and Biorepositories: Collaborative approaches for a sustainable future” with sessions that covered the latest developments together with fundamental biobanking topics. This edition was particularly special, as it marked the first in-person congress following the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 600 delegates in attendance, including more than 40 exhibitors and 13 sponsors.  

Five expert workshops, 87 oral and 140 poster presentations were delivered over three days.  

Strengthening the community through education 

On Tuesday 14 May, five pre-congress workshops focused on sharing knowledge and best practices in detail. The first workshop, “Making your way to ISO 20387 accreditation”, addressed the challenges and opportunities presented by ISO 20387 accreditation. “Information security issues for biobankers + BBMRI-ERIC Federated Platform” included updates on the BBMRI IT ecosystem and broader information security measures impacting the community. The “Greening of Biobanking” workshop focused on current and future carbon reduction and sustainability perspectives for biobanks in a  global context.  “Ethics of AI: Hypes, Hopes, and Risks of AI in Biobanking” examined the ethics of Artificial Intelligence in the health and life sciences. Lastly, “Citizen & patient involvement in biobanking. Discuss the need and feasibility with us!” was geared to patient representative organisations and coordinated by the BBMRI-ERIC Stakeholder Forum Patient Pillar. 

Listen to Congress Radio – Day one here.  

Opening ceremony 

Dr. Ayat Salman, President at ESBB and Prof. Jens K. Habermann, Director General at BBMRI-ERIC, who led the joint organising committee opened the congress on 15th May. The opening speech was delivered by Prof. Martin Polaschek, Austrian Federal Minister of Education Science and Research. Minister Polaschek highlghted the value of joining forces, going beyond borders and continents in the biobanking field and the urge to tackle and globally address the theme of the datafication of biobanks. He also remarked on the importance of the partnership between BBMRI-ERIC and ESBB that has allowed the global biobanking community to come together.  

During the opening ceremony, Dr. Georg Göbel and Dr. Luka Brcic from the Austrian National Node of BBMRI (BBMRI.at) welcomed the delegates to Austria with their presentation on BBMRI Austria. 

Keynote I, Sir Rory Collins 

The first session of the EBW scientific programme was the keynote delivered by Sir Rory Collins, Principal Investigator and Chief Executive of UK Biobank. The subject of his talk was ‘Biobanking for Precision and Genomics Medicine. UK Biobank: scale, depth, duration … but, most importantly, accessibility’. 

After the speech, Sir Collins highlighted the achievements of the UK Biobank and underlined the importance of making data and samples available to scientists worldwide. He also remarked on how crucial the concept of trust is in the fields of biobanking and scientific and medical research. 

EBW day two parallel sessions covered topics such as: ‘Role of biobanks in the future of healthcare research’, ‘Training and education for quality improvement and knowledge generation’, ‘Information security and data privacy’ and ‘The road towards ISO 20387 accreditation’. 

Listen to Congress Radio – Day two here


The scientific programme brought together experts from across Europe and beyond through oral and poster presentations that addressed: 

  • One health & precision medicine 
  • Quality and innovative methods 
  • Stakeholders in the spotlight 
  • Insights into healthcare: patient engagement, rare diseases, and organisational profiles. 

The welcome reception opened with a panel discussion with sponsors and biobank representatives, addressing opportunities for industry-academia partnerships for personalised medicine in light of global challenges. 

Keynote II, Dr. Gillian Bartlett 

Dr. Gillian Bartlett, Associate Dean for Graduate Research Education at the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri, delivered the second keynote on 16 May.  The subject of her talk was ‘Biobanking with Underrepresented Populations: The Critical Role of Participant’.  

Dr. Bartlett spoke about the problems related to underrepresentation when it comes to robust and inclusive biomedical research. She highlighted the importance of including diverse populations in research to reduce bias, improve health outcomes and foster innovation.   

EBW day three parallel sessions covered topics such as: ‘“Be aware of Biobanking” – Outreach and Communication in and for Biobanks’, ‘Citizen & Patient Involvement: Emerging best practices?’, ‘Epidemiological Biobanking – Cohorts as a show window for populations’ and ‘Getting more from less – liquid biopsies, biopsies and fine needle aspirates for molecular techniques’.  

Listen to Congress Radio – Day three here.  

Ethics café  

The scientific programme of 17 May opened with the Ethics café, chaired by Dr. Michaela Th. Mayrhofer, Head of BBMRI-ERIC ELSI, and Dr. Pieter Moons, from Biobank Antwerpen. The session facilitated an exchange of thoughts and knowledge about pressing ethical issues.  The 2024 topic, “Ethics committees and biobanks”, was opened by an intervention delivered by Prof. Josef Haas from the Medical University of Graz.   

The  Ethics Café was followed by panel session “Pitch your innovative idea” and parallel sessions VI, covering topics such as: ‘Green biobanking and sustainability’,  ‘Artificial intelligence and precision medicine’ and ‘Tools to achieve quality – (new) standards for biobanks’. 

Closing ceremony 

Prof. Jens K. Habermann, Director General at BBMRI-ERIC and Roland Leiminger, incoming ESBB President began the closing ceremony and gave the official start to the award session.  

Poster award winners 

  • P2: German Biobanking Alliance tissue proficiency test – a sustainable way to assure high quality standards in biobanking. Tilman Pfeper , German Center for Infection Research (DZIF),Tissue Biobank at the partner site Heidelberg, Germany 
  • P38: Privacy-Preserving Record Linkage between the SIOPEN BIOPORTAL and the RD-Connect Genome Phenome Analysis Platform via the EUPID Services. Hayn, Dieter, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Austria 
  • P6: Collaborative approaches for a sustainable future: BBDCARDIO, the widespread biobank of the Italian Cardiology Network.  Amalia De Curtis, Neuromed Biobanking Center, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, IRCCS Neuromed, Pozzilli, Italy 

Innovation Award winner 

O74: Empowering Genetic Counseling in Biobanks: The Rise of Chatbots and the Case of Alva. Naila Loudini. 

QM Award winners 

  • Biobank Väst, University of Gothenburg 
  • PBKM Stem Cells Biobank, Warsaw 
  • Wroclaw medical University Biobank  

BBMRI-ERIC Appreciation 

  • Jan-Eric Litton, first BBMRI-ERIC Director General 
  • Markus Pasterk, BBMRI-ERIC former administrative director (he received the award at BBMRI-ERIC’s Headquarters) 
  • Eric Steinfelder, former BBMRI-ERIC Director General 
  • Kurt Zatloukal, former BBMRI Austria National Node Director  

After the award session, Prof. Habermann announced the next location The Europe Biobank Week (EBW) Congress: Bologna, Italy and will take place between 13-16 May 2025.  

Listen to Congress Radio – Day four here

Sponsors and exhibitors 

The Europe Biobank Week 2024 was made possible by 13 sponsors and 42 exhibitors who supported the congress and were present at The Hofburg Conference Centre, Vienna, to share their expertise and innovations, which helped make quality biobanking and life science research possible.  

The Europe Biobank Week Congress was supported by Meeting Destination Vienna. 

(Re)visit The Europe Biobank Week Congress through #EBW24 Photographs here.