BWB is born from the collaboration of 3 universities (UCL, ULB and ULg) and their university hospitals aiming at virtually integrating their respective biobanks. BWB offers an interface between tissues and cells collections from human origin that are kept and managed by universities and university hospitals and the needs of the researchers.
BWB helps researchers from the public and private sectors to build their research projects by responding to their needs not only in terms of biological resources and data but also with our associated expertise (ethics, bioinformatics, safety and security, methodology, biostatistics, quality). BWB also promotes scientific collaboration and the distribution of techniques and tools within the network.
BWB is a part of BBMRI.be (Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure of Belgium) and a part of the European initiative (European Biobank Research Infrastructure (BBMRI-ERIC)) aiming at structuring Belgian biobanks and promoting access to collections of biological resources in Europe.
In the early 1980's, scientists and researchers start to freeze and store sample in order to allow future research. The term biobank emerged in the mid 1990's as the definition for a collection of biospecimens with associated data, exclusively available for medical scientific research.
In the 2000's we saw numerous initiatives in the whole world of professional biobanks, including in Belgium:
• 2008: The FNRS creates a "Biobanks" contact group to prepare the Belgium's membership to the Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI).
• 2010: Within the framework of the European Strategy for Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) programs, Minister Nollet's Cabinet identifies biobanking as a priority in Wallonia and asks a working group made by academic actors and BioWin to submit a strategic note to activate Belgium's affiliation to BBMRI. The strategic lines of this note are based on an inventory of academic biobanks carried out by university interfaces as well as on the results of a survey implemented by BioWin on actors, practices, infrastructures and needs.
• 2012: the Minister's Office J.-M. Nollet entrusts a feasibility study to PwC on the networking of biobanks of the Federation Wallonie Bruxelles. The objective of this study is: "To determine in a clear, pragmatic and detailed way the actions to be carried out and to quantify the human, movable, immovable and financial resources to mobilize in order to professionalize the functioning of biobanks of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, and of Wallonia to network them, by integrating the centers of human genetics into the device, to turn them into a powerful tool for companies and academic researchers and to enable them to join the BBMRI infrastructure. "
• 2012-2013: several working meetings are organized to consolidate views on the structure and governance of the platform as well as the needs of industry.
• In September 2013, Belgium became a founding member of the European network of biobanks BBMRI-ERIC. To ensure the positioning of Belgium in the BBMRI, a Belgian office ("Belgian node") is created and includes the BVT (which has been installed in the cancer registry as part of the federal government's cancer plan-PN27), the CMI (which was created by the Flemish Region) and BWB, the subject of this project.
• 2014, the BWB project is submitted and funded by DG06 and Innoviris with the objective of providing a virtual catalogue of biospecimens that is not limited to cancer, but facilitates research on other diseases as well.
• October 2017: Brussels region (Innoviris) is continuing his financial support to BWB allowing us to pursue our goals and missions.