President of ESBB
Dr Balwir (Bal) Matharoo-Ball has a wealth of experience in academic research as well as the NHS. Bal has worked for the Nottingham Health Science Biobank (NHSB) since January 2011 and is currently the Deputy Director. In this role her principal interests have been to align the resources of the NHS, as a single service provider, and provide a unique platform for translational and stratified medicine in the UK. Part of this initiative has been a novel policy of the co-evolution of biobanking and informatics resources within the NHS. Bal is Chair of the NHSB Access Committee and Ethics and Public Patient Involvement (PPI) lead and a member of the PPI Strategy Board for Nottingham University NHS Trust. She is also a co-applicant on the national virtual Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank initiative which has secured over £3 million in grant funding. Bal has been a member of European, Middle Eastern and African Society for Biopreservation and Biobanking (ESBB) and also International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) since 2012. For the past 3 years Bal has been a member and actively contributed of the ESBB Programme committee. Recently Bal was been given the delightful position to be Chair of the ESBBtranslate working very closely with Dr Christina Schroeder and Dr Oliver Gros from Fraunhofer Institute in Germany. Bal is also a reviewer for the Biopreservation and Biobanking journal.
President-Elect of ESBB
Trained as Medical Doctor at the University of Lübeck, Germany, I obtained my full license as a physician in the department of surgery. My doctoral thesis in medicine focused on early detection of increased cancer risk in patients with chronic inflammatory bowel disease and was based on a longitudinal study analyzing biopsy samples. Further, I enrolled in the formal Ph.D. program at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, where I received my Ph.D. in Cancer Genomics and Proteomics from the Cancer Center Karolinska. I complemented my research experiences with a five year postdoctoral fellowship granted by the National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, USA. Most of my research projects have a translational focus and are therefore based on high quality biospecimens. Early on, I experienced that quality of biospecimens can greatly vary trans‐ institutionally and suffer from incomparability.
Thus, when getting appointed to lead the laboratory for experimental surgery at the University Clinic in Lübeck in 2005, I extended the in‐house biobank for solid malignancies and initiated the North German Tumor Bank for Colorectal Cancer (ColoNet). ColoNet was one of four trans‐regional disease focused biobank networks in Germany funded by the German Cancer Aid Foundation 1. As coordinator of ColoNet – comprising four university clinics and 12 non‐university clinics – and as steering committee member of all four biobank networks, I gained in‐depth experience in harmonizing, establishing and applying e.g., standard operation procedures (SOPs), biobank‐based IT infrastructure, quality management, and minimal data sets. ColoNet was further involved in the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) funded project “P2B2”, a blueprint for various biobank access portals.
In 2012, I received a Professorship for Biobanking and was nominated the University’s representative to establish the Interdisciplinary Center for Biobanking‐Lübeck (ICB‐L). The ICB‐L is a central hospital‐ integrated biobank at the Campus Lübeck that currently serves more than 24 different medical disciplines 2. Major achievements are a DIN EN ISO 9001 : 2008 certified quality management system, a campus‐wide three‐stage broad consent procedure, a campus‐wide harmonized dataset comprising about 1.700 parameters, a central biobank IT‐system operating in the clinical context, (automated) cryo‐conservation down to ‐170°C, and a financial business plan for long‐term sustainability. In close connection with my research laboratory, ICB‐L also performs biospecimen research to enhance biospecimen quality to benefit biomedical research and enable individualized medicine 3, 4, 5.
I have become an ESBB member after participating at the ESBB inauguration meeting in Marseille 2011 and participate in the (ISBER) working groups hospital‐integrated biobanks and ESBBtranslate. I am also a member of the program committees for the ISBER conference in Phoenix and the ESBB conference in London this year. In addition, I am a member of the German biobank working group (TMF e.V.) and involved in the working group of the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) that develops and harmonizes standards for biobank specific certifications.
1 Oberländer M, Linnebacher M, König A, Bogoevska V, Brodersen C, Kaatz R, Krohn M, Hackmann M, Ingenerf J, Christoph J, Mate S, Prokosch HU, Yekebas EF, Thorns C, Büning J, Prall F, Uhlig R, Roblick UJ, Izbicki JR, Klar E, Bruch HP, Vollmar B, Habermann JK; ColoNet consortium: The "North German Tumor Bank of Colorectal Cancer": status report after the first 2 years of support by the German Cancer Aid Foundation. Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2013 Feb;398(2):251-8.
3 Gemoll T, Löwe O, Borén M, Oberländer M, Hartwig S, Lehr S, Roblick UJ, Auer G, Jörnvall H, Habermann JK: The impact
of pre-analytical conditions on the serum proteome: heat-stabilization versus nitrogen storage. Arch Physiol Biochem. 2013
4 Bünger S, Klempt-Giessing K, Toner V, Kelly M, Fitzgerald SP, Brenner H, von Eggeling F, Habermann JK: A novel multiplex-protein array for serum diagnostics of colorectal cancer: impact of pre-analytical storage conditions. Biopreserv Biobank. 2013 Dec;11(6):379-86.
5 Oberländer M, Alkemade H, Bünger S, Ernst F, Thorns C, Braunschweig T, Habermann JK: A “waterfall” transfer-based workflow for improved quality of tissue microarray construction and processing in breast cancer research. Pathol Oncol Res.
Past-President of ESBB
Elke Smits earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Leuven, a Master of Science in Biotechnology and a PhD in Veterinary Sciences in 1998 from the University of Gent in Belgium. Elke Smits joined Devgen Inc, a spin-off company in Gent, as manager molecular cell biology for target discovery and drug development projects. In 2004, she became senior scientist at the Flemish Science Policy Council, the advisory body for the Flemish regional government concerning science and innovation policy. She has published over 20 peer-reviewed articles, holds several patents, wrote many policy advices and recommendations and authored the study series, Technology and Innovation in Flanders: Priorities.
Prof. dr. Elke Smits currently heads the Science & Innovation department of the Antwerp University Hospital and has gained extensive experience in merging translational research and biobanking within a clinical setting. She holds a visiting professorship position at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Antwerp and is liaison officer Clinical Research Center Antwerp for the Center for Medical Innovation.
Within ESBB, Elke leads the “ESBBtranslate” Pharma-Academia Working Group, together with Dr Christina Schroeder from Fraunhofer Institute in Germany and prof. Eoin Gaffney, pathologist and founder of the Biobank Ireland Trust. The goal is to bring together a forum to enable and enhance public-private biobank related partnerships within the European framework and foster biobank-based R&D and innovation with the pharmaceutical, biotech and ICT industry.
Jeanne-Hélène di Donato
Jeanne-Hélène di Donato has been involved in biobanking for the past 20 years, first as manager of the French AFM-Généthon biobank for a period of 14 years, then since 2005 as a consultant for biobanks in 3C-R Company. During this time, she has worked on establishment of best practices for BRCs as member of the French delegation for the OECD BRC Task Force and leader of the working group on best practice guidelines on human-derived material. She has also worked on the quality management system for BRCs as member of French commission for the publication of Standard NF S 96-900: BRC quality, which is the French standard alongside ISO 9001-2008 for biobank certification. She is a certificated auditor for ISO 9001 quality management. In addition she has worked on ethical issues relating to research use of human samples and is a member of an ethics committee for biological research. Also on the organisation of biobank activities with respect to logistic, administrative and legal issues. She is an expert on collections and biobanks for several French ministries, cancer organisations, and for her consulting clients. She has been involved in establishing and managing the Eurobiobank network since 2001 and in founding and managing the 3C-R Club, which is a francophone network of 83 BRCs established to promote discussion, collaboration and problem solving. Her involvement in ESBB began from the very beginning of this network and was the first individual member! She is involved in a variety of ESBB activities, including production of the English summary of her Cahier 3C-R reports for the members-only website, and has been a member of the review panel for the Research Biobank of the Year Competition (RBYC).
Since the Leipzig Research Center for Civilisation Diseases (LIFE) was set up 2010, I've been active in the interesting field of biobanking. Now I'm head of the LIFE-Biobank and preanalytical laboratory.
My personal experiences in biobanking have concentrated on quality assurance of biological samples in biobanks, biobank management and education. I'm a member of the expert committee working group in the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) which supports the ISO TC 276 responsible for the coming new ISO norm 20387 on biobanking and BBMRI-ERIC QM workgroups 3 and 4 for the evaluation of CEN standards. I also participated in quality workshops of BBMRI.de, which produced generic standard operating procedures. As part of the Steering Committee of the new "German Biobank Alliance" (GBA) initiated and coordinated by BBMRI.de we try to link GBA biobanks to the BBMRI-ERIC infrastructure for the cross-border exchange of biosamples and related data. To do so harmonization between GBA and BBMRI-ERIC is needed especially in IT networking, common quality standards and measurements as well as ELSI regulations.
I qualified as a veterinarian and later completed an MSc in Zoology at the University of Pretoria. I initiated a project which explored the potential of using assisted reproduction for the benefit of endangered wildlife species. In 1996 the research project found a new home at the Endangered Wildlife Trust, a wildlife NGO, and the project expanded its operations to include the banking of all biomaterials from wildlife species for biodiversity conservation and biotechnology development. In 2005, the government recognized the wildlife biomaterials bank as a National Asset and after reaching agreement between the parties, transferred the banking operations to the National Zoological Gardens of the National Research Foundation (NRF), an agency of the Department of Science and Technology. I headed up the NZG Biobank for the next nine years and which collection currently houses over 75 000 samples from over 1000 species. Different tissue-types are banked under different conditions including ultra-low refrigeration in mechanical freezers and Liquid Nitrogen. I completed a term as Board member of ISBER and currently am a member of its Scientific Programme and the Education and Training committee. I am also co-chair of the ESBB Enviro-Bio Working Group.
I am currently a board member of WESSA, the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA. For my contribution to conservation, I am the recipient of a Mazda Wildlife Top Ten Conservationist of the Decade Award and the 2006/07 NSTF National Science Award for my contribution to Science and Technology in South Africa. I have authored or co-authored more than 40 peer-review research publications. The biobanking programme has featured in numerous regional radio and TV programmes as well as six international documentaries (National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC and Beyond 2000).
In 2014 I was appointed by the Department of Science and Technology to champion Biobanks as new Large Research Infrastructure for South Africa and where we are in the process of completing the Biodiversity Biobank Implementation Plan due for completion in October 2015.
Dr Dominik Lermen is Group Manager Biomonitoring & Biobanking at Fraunhofer IBMT and is based in Sulzbach, Germany. He received his PhD in stem cell biology from the University of Trier in association with the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT, and the German Research Foundation (DFG). His aim has always been to support activities that focus on protection of the environment and human health. Besides being involved in biodiversity related activities, human biomonitoring (HBM), the health-related surveillance of chemicals and environmental pollutants in human tissues and body fluids, is the main focus of his scientific work.
Dominik has been involved in the environmental division of the German Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB) since 2002. He became a regional manager of the Cryo-Brehm, the German Cell Bank for Wildlife in 2010 and has led the IBMT working group Biomonitoring & Biobanking since 2012 and has been head of the Fraunhofer IBMT branch Münster (North Rhine Westphalia, GER) since 2016. On behalf of the German Environment Agency he oversees two major biobanks for human biomonitoring in Germany, the German Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB) and the biobank of the German health related Environmental Survey (GerES).
Dominik is an active member of both ESBB and ISBER and in the past he has co-chaired the programme committees on behalf of both organisations.
Rosita Kammler is Head of Translational Research Coordination for the International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG) and European Thoracic Oncology Platform (ETOP). For the past 14 years her work has revolved around biobanking. Together with Professor Giuseppe Viale, she has been pivotal in building and conducting the translational research programs of IBCSG and ETOP, enabling state-of-the-art oncology research. She has been the driving force in establishing multiple biobanks of mammary and lung carcinoma, building a critical resource for the more than 35 translational research studies conducted by IBCSG/ETOP and collaborators over the years. She has also had a central role in managing all IBCSG/ETOP translational research studies since 2002 as well as the informatics systems required to support these. She also oversees all translational research activities conducted by IBCSG and ETOP in the course of prospective clinical trials and retrospective biomarker analyses.
Rosita has trained in international business management and her biobank management expertise includes knowledge of international regulatory implications for sample use and transfer
Dr. Maimuna Mendy is a molecular virologist by training over 25 years’ experience in research on hepatitis infection and liver disease in SS Africa. She has a background in capacity building and infrastructure in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) in the area of biobanking and laboratory with expertise in coordinating studies that involve multiple international partners
She retires as Head of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) LSB Group in Sep 2017. The IARC Biobank is one of the largest international biobanks. Dr Mendy organized its centralization which brought together diverse collections from multiple collaborative studies onto a single platform and ensuring that best practice principles and international ethical guidelines are followed for the management and re-distribution of the resources.
She founded the Biobank and Cohort Building Network for LMIC (BCNet) in 2013 to provide technical and scientific support to LMIC biobanks on issues related to quality, infrastructure, transnational access to biological resources and ethical implications.
Dr Mendy Joined ESBB from its inception, a member of the Africa and the Education and Training Working Groups. She has published widely and co-author to over 70 publications in peer review journals.
She is a member of several international organisations and member of a number of Advisory Boards
Prof. Sofie Bekaert was trained as a doctor in Applied Biological Engineering. After 10 y of research, setting up a research platform on biological aging, next generation sequencing and biomarkers, she became innovation manager at Ghent University (Belgium). In 2010 Sofie Bekaert has initiated Bimetra (http://www.bimetra.be), the Clinical Research Center of Ghent University Hospital (UZGent) in collaboration with Ghent University (UGent). As the head of Bimetra, she has the responsibility over ~ 25 coworkers in the daily management of the central point of contact for different aspects of translational biomedical research. Bimetra wants to reinforce the leading scientific position of the UZGent and UGent, by creating a solid integrated service platform where clinicians and researchers can focus on translating their research into novel (healthcare) application in optimal circumstances. The Bimetra Biobank is a novel high quality controlled biobank facility bringing together several biobank collections and initiatives (Belgian Virtual Tumourbank, Flemish Biobank Network and local strategic collections). Prof. Bekaert is part-time senior lecturer (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences) and is coauthor of over 50 peer-review articles. Recently, Sofie Bekaert was appointed as the president of the Board of directors of the BBMRI.be.
Since January 2015 Kirstin has been at AstraZeneca to take in the role of Principal Scientist: Human Biological Sample Governance and Strategy. Kirstin works with the biobanks globally to ensure that AstraZeneca scientists can access the samples and data that they need in a compliant.
Kirstin has worked in the Biobanking field for over 15 years in different roles and sectors and has watched the field grow and develop. Kirstin graduated in Physiology and Pharmacology (BSc) and completed her PhD on asthma research at Southampton University. She carried out Post-Doctoral research in to Muscular Dystrophy at King’s College and Imperial College, before managing the UK Parkinson’s Disease Society Tissue Bank at Imperial College from 2002, until 2009. Dr Goldring worked at UCL from 2009-2012 as the Biobank facilitator. The role involved in developing biobank infrastructure and support, and providing advice on protocols, ethics and regulations for use of human samples. From 2012, the role expanded to co-ordinate the UCL BioResource, aiming to develop a panel of healthy volunteers and patients consent for recall to future research studies.
At UCL she was responsible for supporting the co-ordination of the successful bid from UCL and Nottingham to the MRC to host the UKCRC Joint Funders Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre. This Centre is an important initiative to bring together Biobanking in the UK, and is now the UK hub of BBMRI and I now represent Pharma on the steering committee. I sit as the external representative on the Human Materials and Data Management Committee (HMDMC) at the Sanger Institute as well as being a member of the Ethics Advisory Committee for EURIPRED. Over recent years she has participated in and with Daniel Simeon-Dubach and Marianne Henderson chaired sessions on Sustainability at ESBB and ISBER meetings, leading to publications. She is also part of the Pharma working group of ISBER.
Chair, Vendor Committee
Chair, Social Media Working Group
ESBB Governing Council
Council is the central decision-making body of the Association. It includes the following voting members:
- President: Balwir (Bal) Matharoo-Ball (UK)
- President-elect: Jens Habermann (DE)
- Past-President: Elke Smits (BE)
- Secretary: Jeanne-Hélène di Donato (FR)
- Treasurer: Ronny Baber (DE)
- Councilor: Paul Bartels (SA)
- Councilor: Rosita Kammler (CH)
- Councilor: Dominik Lermen (DE)
- Councilor: Maimuna Mendy (FR)
- Councilor: Sofie Bekaert (BE)
- Councilor: Kirstin Goldring (UK)
Council also includes the following non-voting members:
- Chair of the Vendor Committee: Rolf Morselt (NL)
- Chair of the Social Media Working Group: Ayat Salman (Canada)
Misson & Goals
The mission of ESBB is to advance the field of biobanking in support of research relating to healthcare, agriculture and the environment.
The goals of ESBB are as follows:
- Identify problems in the biobanking field and provide solutions.
- Encourage high professional standards in biobanking.
- Provide high value membership services for key actors in the biobanking field.
- Encourage participation from a wide range of repositories across the EMEA region.
- Provide a strong united voice for biobankers in the region, to influence development in their field.
- Partner with other organizations involved with, or related to biobanking
- Encouragge and support public-private biobank-related partnerships because of their scientific, medical and commercial importance.
- Promote stakeholder support for biobanking.
Strategies to achieve these goals have been defined in the ESBB Business Plan.
ESBB has partnerships/ collaborative agreements with the following organisations:
- Biobanking and BioMolecular resources Research infrastructure European Research lnfrastructure Consortium (BBMRI-ERIC)
- Biobank and Cohort Building Network (BCNet)
- Global Genome Biodiversity Network (GGBN)
- 3C-R Club: French Network for Biological Resources
- European Association for Predictive, Preventive and Personalised Medicine (EPMA)
- International Society of Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER)
- Asian Network of Research Resource Centers (ANRRC)
- Korean Network of Research Resource Centers (KNRRC)
- Biodiversity-based Economy Development Office (BEDO)
- Rare Cancers Europe (RCE)