contributed by Sergey Anisimov (NBS and ISBER Regional Ambassador in Russia), Daniel Simeon-Dubach (Medservice, Biobanking Consulting and Services; Chair, ISBER Standards Committee), Zisis Kozlakidis (International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), World Health Organizaton (WHO); ISBER Past-President)
Starting in 2010, a number of academic research biobanks started to appear in Russia and by today about 25 are operating as established facilities. Most of these were based on pre-existing institutional collections of biospecimens, while a few were formed anew. Similarly to other countries, Russian academic research biobanks specialize in either populational studies (such as the biobank of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow), or particular diseases or clinical areas (such as the biobanks of the Almazov National Medical Research Centre in Saint-Petersburg), or biodiversity and environmental protection (e.g. the ‘Noah’s Ark’ biorepository in Moscow State University).
At around the same time, the ‘National BioService LLC’ (NBS) was launched in March 2014 as the first commercial research biobank and bioservice in Russia. Using primarily a prospectively collecting model, and nearly five years later, NBS has become a recognized leader in Russian biobanking, managing an extensive network of over 100 clinical centers and operating 4 regional laboratories ensuring high-quality and consistency of processing and characterization of biospecimens. One particular area of focus for NBS has been to ensure the full legality of exporting biospecimens – an activity that is under strict state control in Russia. This was achieved by working closely with the relevant federal regulator, Roszdavnadzor, and implementing strict procedures within NBS and in all its relationships with clinical partners, customs and courier companies. NBS is very open in sharing its experience with all its customers to help ensure that all samples originating from Russia are indeed collected and exported correctly.
Being one of the pioneers of professional biobanking, NBS has been very active in educating clinical and research institutions across Russia in biobanking by sharing and disseminating its expertise, by organizing workshops on biobanking aspects and by helping academic research institutes in Russia to set up their own biobanks. Examples of such organizations are the National Research Center for Preventive Medicine in Moscow, and the Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, which has perhaps one of the best equipped biobanks in Russia.
The biobanking movement in Russia is expanding and as a sign of its development, maturity and consolidation, several biobanks, including NBS, have formed the Russian National Association of Biobanks and Biobanking Professionals (NASBio). Aims of this recently founded organization include the creation of a modern, internationally recognized model of biobanking in Russia; the promotion and implementation of best practices, while establishing professional and research links both within the country and globally, facilitating the integration of Russia into large-scale biobanking projects. The NBS membership in ISBER provides strong boost to all these activities. After NBS became the first Russian organizational member of ISBER in 2016, its example was quickly followed by other Russian biobanks. As part of an effort to adopt best practices in biobanking, an official Russian translation of ISBER Best Practices Fourth Edition was published earlier this year with the NBS help and released both electronically and in hardcopy.] This publication aims to help Russian specialists to become familiar with and to operate within harmonized international practices and support the potential development of national standards. During the latest workshop, Dr Daniel Simeon –Dubach (Chair of the ISBER Standards Committee) and Zisis Kozlakidis (ISBER President 2017-2018) presented on ISBER and the ISBER Best Practices 4th ed translated in Russian.
The affiliate agreement signed between ISBER and NBS in May 2018 ensures further the deepening of Russian representation in the international professional community of biobanking. At the same time significant progress made by Russian biobanks and biobanking over the course of last few years demonstrates the dedication of Russian Federation to achieve further progress in this field and opportunities that such a progress brings to the advancement of biomedical research.