MESSAGE FROM THE CEO

“We have grown into a fully-fledged research infrastructure, playing a pivotal role both nationally and internationally.”

Catherine Larue

Chief Executive Officer

 

The year 2017 has been eventful, to say the least. We could define it as the year of  evolution towards a stronger corporate identity. The winds of change have pervaded every aspect of IBBL’s operations, from our activities to our people. Not even the management has been immune to it. It is my pleasure to briefly walk you through the major milestones of the year and give you a taste of the surprising achievements you will encounter throughout the report.

As had been anticipated over the last couple of years, IBBL needed a larger ‘shell’. We had grown to an extent that simply required more space. The milestone came in November 2017, when we relocated our entire staff and operations from Luxembourg City to Dudelange. The new facilities open up a wealth of new opportunities, owing to the tenfold increase in storage capacity and the doubling in floor area, allowing us to expand our services. Needless to say that the smooth transition was enabled by the impeccable organisational work of our team. 

From the quality perspective, we witnessed the international approval of the ISO/DIS 20387 biobanking standard draft and made important steps forward in our contribution to the development of the draft ISO/AWI 21899 norm. Indeed, the standardisation of biobanking practices is one of our top priorities, which we have been nursing and working on for several years. Owing to our increased space, we were also in a position to start all necessary actions to become an authorised GMP storage infrastructure, which will allow us to store human cells and tissues for therapeutic applications.

We keep two main fields of action in mind in everything we do, in line with our two strategic objectives: the national and the international dimensions. At the local level, IBBL has been a longstanding partner of all major Luxembourgish research actors, lending its expertise to support advances on Parkinson’s Disease (NCER-PD), Personalised Medicine (through the Personalised Medicine Consortium of Luxembourg) and Cancer (under the National Cancer Plan). We are particularly proud of our partnership with the University of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) – of which IBBL is a part – the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) and the National Health Laboratory (LNS) in the SOCS project, which saw the discovery of a new colorectal cancer biomarker in 2017.

At the European level, IBBL has been nurturing numerous relationships with international players, which resulted in our participation in the consortia of several EU-funded projects. One such instance is SPIDIA4P, under which IBBL is leading the activities to develop and implement External Quality Assessment schemes, with a view to bring about the standardisation of the pre-analytical workflows applied to personalised medicine. We are honoured to have been recognised among other EU partners for our expertise in this field.

We also pride ourselves on being one of the few biobanks that carries out biospecimen research. This year again, our team of devoted scientists has reaped the fruits of their hard work, having discovered two markers that will allow researchers to assess the quality of their biological samples.

All in all, 2017 could not have been a better time for me to retake the reins of IBBL. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Marc Vandelaer for his dedication and leadership in my absence, to the Ministry of Higher Education and Research for its unwavering support and, most importantly, to all the IBBL staff, both the research and administrative teams, for their passion and commitment. As much as we enjoy the start-up flair of our institution, we now have to accept the fact that we have grown into a fully-fledged research infrastructure, playing a pivotal role both nationally and internationally. As such, we cannot rest on our laurels, but we need to keep delivering on our promises, particularly in light of the renewed 2018-2021 performance contract with the Ministry. Looking forward, 2018 will see the relocation of the samples currently hosted in various partner organisations to IBBL, as well as the continuation of our activities to strengthen our European presence through collaborations and participation in EU consortia. We will also be pursuing our accreditation and certification efforts to uphold our position as a quality-driven biobank. Finally, 2018 will mark the tenth anniversary of IBBL’s foundation… Another busy year ahead!

Catherine Larue

Chief Executive Officer

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