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EBW24 Live
#EBW24 Live: Ethics café  

#EBW24 Live: Ethics café  

The first session of Friday’s EBW scientific programme was the Ethics café, chaired by Dr. Michaela Th. Mayrhofer, Head of BBMRI-ERIC ELSI, and Dr. Pieter Moons, from Biobank Antwerpen. This interactive session facilitated an exchange of thoughts and knowledge about pressing ethical issues.  

Dr. Mayrhofer welcomed participants and introduced her co-chair, Dr. Pieter Moons. This year’s topic, “Ethics committees and biobanks”, was opened by an intervention delivered by Prof. Josef Haas from the Medical University of Graz.  

Reflecting about what emerged from the session, Dr. Mayrhofer said:  

“Today, the topic was about ethics committees and how they fit into the realm of research and its implications for biobanks. We covered a variety of topics, from genetics and genomics to high-risk scores and incidental findings. What emerged in the end was that ethics and regulation can only lag behind. Nonetheless, you can never give up, you must do the work, and in order to do the work, you must have a dialogue with the people concerned.”

Dr. Pieter Moons highlighted: 

“We discussed the interplay between ethics committees and biobanks. We also talked about the various stakeholders in this field, including patients, ethics committees, biobanks, and researchers and how the interplay between them is to protect patients’ rights, fulfill legal requirements and lead to optimal and state-of-the-art scientific research.  

We learned that this interplay often involves some frustration among the parties. However, keeping the discussion open and maintaining data transparency among the different stakeholders is the key to make it happen.”

Dr. Mayrhofer added a closing remark about the discussion between the different stakeholders: 

“It is really a cycle. It is not a journey from A to B. Once the research is completed, you have an idea for something new and then the process starts all over again. That is what it should be about.” 

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’.