The University of Malta is announcing the launch of DwarnaBio, a national population-based biobank, that aims to serve as a resource for genomic research in the Maltese population.
Population-based biobanks are critical research instruments in the fields of both common and rare disease research. This research is dependent on good quality biological specimens and clinical data from research participants. A population-based biobank is a repository of biological specimens donated by individuals from the general population, who are unselected for a specific disease. As the national population biobank, DwarnaBio aims to be representative of the Maltese population. DwarnaBio will thus be a powerful tool that facilitates prospective cohort studies, biomarker research as well in-depth genetic epidemiological studies.
DwarnaBio seeks to primarily prioritise direct public engagement in research. It represents a move away from the traditional concept of research subjects as passive sample donors to emphasising a proactive and collaborative approach that considers the general public as an active research participant.
The major goal of DwarnaBio is to recruit a nationally representative population collection with consent for multi-omic analysis coupled to biomarker and epidemiological data. DwarnaBio will lay the foundation for longitudinal cohort studies of different clinical outcomes and establish a medical genome reference dataset in the Maltese population.
DwarnaBio operates from the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Biobanking here at University and also within the data management frameworks and governance structure of the European Biobank Network BBMRI, ensuring interoperability with research biobanks at the European level. It will increase public awareness of biomedical research at the University of Malta and foster enhanced communication of research output to the general public. DwarnaBio also envisions greater cross-sector collaboration with as-yet untapped resources within the national health system.
The DwarnaBio core team includes Dr Nikolai P. Pace, Director; Dr Lidia Ryabova, Jasmine Spiteri and Eric Santucci – Operations, Quality and IT management , and Prof. Gillian Martin and Dr Bridget Ellul – ELSI team, and Prof. Charles V. Sammut, and Dr Christopher Barbara on the BBMRI Assembly of members.