Establishing the National Irish COVID-19 Biobank (NICB) as an important piece of biobanking infrastructure

Posted on: 12 December 2022

The launch of the operational phase of the National Irish Covid-19 Biobank (NICB) marks an important advance in national research structures that ensures Ireland retains a competitive research presence in international pandemic response and is part of future preparedness.

Establishing the National Irish COVID-19 Biobank (NICB) as an important piece of biobanking infrastructure

The National Irish COVID-19 Biobank (NICB) is an important component of national biobanking infrastructure - where healthcare, academia, industry and patient organisations engage - to deliver high impact, patient focused research into the causes, progression, treatment and consequences of COVID-19 and future pandemics.  First established in September 2021, the NICB is today moving from a set-up phase to an operational phase with the recruitment of patients.

The goal of the NICB is to create the best possible conditions for biobanking driven research that delivers on the wider societal benefits of biobanking, that may include potential reduction in the duration and cost of clinical trials, more accurate patient diagnosis and improved quality of life.

The NICB is a bridge between healthcare and research, supported by the Health Research Board, the Department of Health, 13 hospitals and 6 academic institutions.  

The project is led by Co-Principal Investigators Prof Colm Bergin (Trinity College Dublin) and Prof Paddy Mallon (University College Dublin) and provides a standardised, national approach to COVID-19 biobanking.   Speaking at the event the Co-Principal Investigators said:

“We believe that we have broken new ground for biobanking and research in this country.  The establishment of a national COVID-19 biobank creates a research platform for Irish and international researchers to promote high impact, patient-focused research and has created a pathway and important learnings for future biobanks in Ireland.” 

Stephen Donnelly TD, Minister for Health said:

“The government’s investment in the National Irish COVID-19 Biobank (NICB) is a key part our national health research infrastructure.  The operational phase of the national COVID-19 biobank is a significant milestone in delivering on the research potential of biobanking, bringing the wider benefits of biobanking to society and enhancing national preparedness for future pandemics.” 

Dr Teresa Maguire, Director of Research and Funding, Health Research Board said:

"Investment in biobanking in Ireland to enable research and innovation has been highlighted as a need over many years. This investment from the Department of Health, catalysed by the COVID-19 pandemic, is a significant and welcome development. As financing is one of numerous challenges for those involved in establishing and maintaining biobanks the Health Research Board has designed a monitoring and evaluation approach which will place a real focus on reviewing the National Covid Biobank as an exemplar project; to inform future decisions about optimal governance structures, consent and data privacy frameworks, as well as communications and engagement with the public. This should inform the case for a scalable and sustainable investment in biobanking infrastructure in Ireland, to support health research and innovation, and improve the lives of many patients."

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