The IBBL (Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg) Institute is an autonomous not-for-profit institute dedicated to supporting biomedical research for the benefit of patients. We provide biospecimen-related services and biobanking infrastructure for applied medical research.
IBBL is an integrated research infrastructure, compliant with international quality standards, offering biobanking services, including the collection, processing, analysis and storage of biological samples and associated data. In addition, we carry out research to optimise biospecimen processing and certify biospecimen quality. IBBL is an autonomous institute, organised within the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH).
Our mission & vision
Our mission is to provide accredited biospecimen-related services and a biobanking infrastructure for applied medical research.
Our vision is to be an international centre of excellence in biobanking and a valued partner in developing better healthcare solutions.
To accomplish our aims, we have identified a series of strategic goals:
- Support Luxembourg biomedical research
- Be a preferred European partner for accredited biospecimen-related services and biobanking infrastructure
Our story begins in 2008, when the Luxembourg government launched the “Health Sciences and Technologies Action Plan”, a commitment to the creation of a centre of excellence in biomedical research and development in Luxembourg. This centre of excellence was based on the creation of IBBL, the LCSB (Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine) as well as the launch of a large lung cancer programme. Supported by the Ministry of Research, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economy, we opened our doors two years later, in February 2010.
We started collecting the first human biospecimens in September 2009 and by the end of 2013 we had collected over 195,000 samples in our freezers and liquid nitrogen tanks. At the end of 2017, the total samples collected amounted to over 429,000, deriving from blood, tissue, saliva, urine, stool and cerebrospinal fluid.
Since the beginning we focussed on establishing and nurturing international partnerships and have established collaborations with Wafergen in 2010, with the EU FP7 STORE consortium in 2011, with JPND, EORTC and BIG in 2013, with the US National Cancer Institute in 2014 and with the IMI CANCER-ID consortium in 2015. In 2017, we joined the Horizon2020 SPIDIA4P consortium and the IMI LITMUS consortium, further complementing our portfolio of European partnerships.
On the national and regional level, we have also been actively setting up partnerships with clinicians and researchers. We are proud to be part of several large-scale projects, including the National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s disease (NCER) and the National Cancer Plan.
Quality has always been a focal point for us and we have built up our operations around a formal Quality Management System. In December 2014, we received our ISO 9001 and NF S96-900 certifications, followed by the ISO 17025 accreditation in early 2016. This dedication to quality was further rewarded when we won Luxembourg Quality and Excellence Award in 2015.
In January 2015, IBBL was integrated as an autonomous institute within the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH). Then in November 2017, we moved our operations and our staff to new, larger and permanent facilities in Dudelange connected to the Laboratoire National de Santé (LNS).
Our quality management system
The use of standardised procedures for the collection, preparation, testing, storage and redistribution of biological material is necessary so that researchers receive samples that can be used in an accurate and reproducible manner, that are fit for purpose and of uniform high quality. Standardisation and validation of procedures can eliminate pre-analytical variations and provide reliable test results thereby ensuring the quality of the downstream biomedical research.
Therefore, our operations are run under the control of a well-defined Quality Management System (QMS) and certified for the following norms:
ISO 9001:2015 (certification) that specifies the general requirements for quality management systems in client-based organisations (since 2014 and transition to latest version in August 2018)
ISO 17025:2005 (accreditation reconfirmed in May 2018) that specifies the general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories for the following methods:
- Complete Blood Count with ABX Micros CRP 200;
- DNA Quantification by Spectrofluorometry;
- Nucleic Acid Quantification by Spectrophotometry;
- RNA Integrity Measurement;
- DNA Cross-Linking Assessment by PCR;
- Long-Range PCR;
- Human sCD40L Quantification in Serum;
- 16s rRNA Gene Sequencing.
Finally, our operations are also compliant with the principles of ISO 17043:2010 (Proficiency Testing), with ISO Guide 34:2009 Reference Material Production and with NF S96-900:2011 (certification), a French national norm, which specifies the requirements for the management system of a Biological Resource Centre (BRC) and the quality of biological resources.
For more details about IBBL’s Quality Management System, please read our Quality Manual.
Our privacy, ethics, and access policies
All of our biological samples are contributions from volunteers, both patients and healthy citizens, who have given specific consent for the collection of their sample. Every donor has the right to withdraw their consent at any time, in which case all of the unused samples will be destroyed and related data deleted.
We work with national and international authorities to ensure that the collection and use of samples and data conform to high ethical standards and safeguard the privacy of the donor. All of our donors’ identities are kept strictly confidential and our data secured. We have a rigorous process in place to remove all identifying information from samples and health records at the source, so no identifying information is known by the biobank staff or given to researchers.
Before receiving any samples, research organisations must submit an application to our sample access committee. To receive the approval of this committee, applicants must show that they have the expertise to perform their proposed research, that the proposed research has ethical clearance, and that they have sufficient funds to see the research through to completion. The full Sample Access Governance can be accessed here.
Moreover, as of November 2018, any access request pertaining to sample usages that are not foreseen in the study protocol – or originating from a requestor other than the team of the Principle Investigator of the collection in question – will be assessed by an evaluation committee. This consists of patient representatives, expert clinicians from the research field, 2 members of IBBL and the Principal Investigator of the sample collection. This is described in detail in our updated Default Sample Access Procedure, available here.