Europe Biobank Week Opens in Vienna for Major Post-Pandemic Congress

The Europe Biobank Week (EBW) Congress, jointly organised between BBMRI-ERIC (the European Research Infrastructure for Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources in Health and Life Science) and ESBB (the European, African and Middle Eastern Society for Biobanking and Biopreservation) is back for 2024 and will take place from 14-17 May at The Hofburg in Vienna, Austria.

The 2024 congress theme is: “Strengthening Biobanks and Biorepositories: Collaborative approaches for a sustainable future” with sessions encompassing the latest developments together with fundamental biobanking themes.

Welcoming over 600 delegates, including 40+ exhibitors and 13 sponsors, this year is special as it marks the first in-person congress following the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly amongst research infrastructures, EBW is unique in size and scale for bringing together researchers, biobank staff, institutions and industry who engage in high-quality scientific sessions.

Featured Partners

Five expert workshops, 87 oral and 140 poster presentations are set to be delivered over three days. A major topic on the agenda is new models of academia-industry partnerships that will be explored throughout the congress and beyond.

High level participation

The opening speech will be delivered by Prof. Martin Polaschek, Austrian Federal Minister of Education Science and Research, on 15th May. Prof. Polaschek will highlight:

  • The crucial role of biobanks in data-intensive research fields such as precision medicine and one health.
  • Quality management of samples and data as basis for delivering high quality research and innovation.
  • The importance of engaging with citizens and patients in order to build trust in science and research, in biobanking and for the exchange of data.
  • The value of joining forces and going beyond borders and continents in the biobanking field, supported by the collaboration of BBMRI-ERIC and ESBB.

Speaking in advance of the congress, Prof. Martin Polaschek said:

“Biobanks are essential research infrastructures that provide key resources for health and environmental research. As Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research of the hosting country of BBMRI-ERIC I am very delighted that EBW24 takes place in Vienna this year.”

Prof. Jens K Habermann, BBMRI-ERIC Director General, and Dr. Ayat Salman, ESBB President, have led the joint organising committee.

Habermann said:

“The in-person congress has been greatly missed by the community. The value of such an event is demonstrated by strong community and industry support. There is no other event like this.”

Salman agrees:

“For the first time since the pandemic, EBW24 is being held as an in-person event. EBW24 is a great opportunity to meet colleagues, make new acquaintances and most importantly exchange knowledge and create new collaborations. This event demonstrates strong community and industry support and I couldn’t agree more with Jens that there is no other event like this in Europe.”

Keynotes to address inclusive biobanking for the future

Sir Rory Collins, Principal Investigator and Chief Executive of UK Biobank, will deliver the first keynote on 15 May. His presentation addresses ‘Biobanking for Precision and Genomics Medicine. UK Biobank: scale, depth, duration…but, most importantly, accessibility’. Dr. Gillian Bartlett, Associate Dean for Graduate Research Education at the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri, delivers the second keynote on 16 May. Dr. Bartlett is set to speak on ‘Biobanking with Underrepresented Populations: The Critical Role of Participant’.

Programme

The scientific programme brings together experts from across Europe and further afield through oral and poster presentations that address:

  • One health & precision medicine
  • Quality and innovative methods
  • Stakeholders in the spotlight
  • Insights into healthcare: patient engagement, rare diseases, and organisational profiles.

The welcome reception opens with a panel discussion that includes sponsor and biobank representatives addressing opportunities for industry-academia partnerships for personalised medicine considering global challenges.

Strengthening the community through education

Five pre-congress workshops focus in detail on sharing knowledge and best practices. The first workshop, “Making your way to ISO 20387 accreditation”, addresses the challenges and opportunities presented by ISO 20387 accreditation. “Information security issues for biobankers + BBMRI-ERIC Federated Platform” includes updates on the BBMRI IT ecosystem and wider information security measures impacting the community. The “Greening of Biobanking” workshop focuses on current and future carbon reduction and sustainability perspectives for biobanks considering the global context. Two workshops are split into two parts: “Ethics of AI: Hypes, Hopes, and Risks of AI in Biobanking”, examines the ethics of Artificial Intelligence in the health and life sciences whilst “Citizen & patient involvement in biobanking. Discuss the need and feasibility with us!”, is geared to patient representative organisations and coordinated by the BBMRI-ERIC Stakeholder Forum Patient Pillar.

Sponsors and exhibitors

The Europe Biobank Week 2024 is made possible by 13 sponsors and 42 exhibitors that support the congress and who will be present at The Hofburg, Vienna to share their expertise and innovations which help make quality biobanking and life science research possible. The Europe Biobank Week Congress is supported by Meeting Destination Vienna.