Travels with Andy – South Korea

March 26th, 2015 in Biorepository Profile

ISBER News today spotlights biobanks in South Korea, where ISBER recently announced it will hold its first regional meeting September 13-15, 2015 at the Grand Hyatt Incheon in Seoul. ISBER President Andy Zaayenga recently visited a number of important biobanks in the country and filed this report.

By Andy Zaayenga, ISBER President 2014-2015

Korea National Research Resource Center, Seoul, Korea

Andy with KNRRC Headquarters staff members. Front row, from left: Dr. Yeonhee Lee, Director General of KNRRC with Andy Zaayenga and Graham Long of CryoXtract Instruments . Back row, from the left, Minkyung Jung, Dr. Kyungsook Ahn (head of department of education & research), Minhee Son, Heajin Lee (IT Team manger), Ki-Jeong Kim, Eunah Choi, Boyoung Park, Gye Lim Lee and Seon Ho Moon (Account Sales Manager, MDxK).


Above: Andy meets with Dr. Yeonhee Lee, Director General of KNRRC

The Korea National Research Resource Center project has been supported by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), and National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) since 1995. KNRRC consists of a headquarters (HQ), 5 core centers and 36 RRCs handling human-derived, animal, plant and microorganism specimens as well as fusion-matter (non-biological) materials.

Established in 2008, the KNRRC HQ built a total management system and has been working on standardization of RRC operation and resource management to ensure the reliability of resources. KNRRC is actively playing a leading role by organizing domestic and international networks and by collaborating with resource centers all over the world. The core centers perform quality control, manage the resources of discontinued RRCs and provide training for managing each resource group.

RRCs collect, store, maintain, distribute research resources and develop research materials that are difficult for individual researchers to obtain. Also, they provide consulting services and the opportunity to exchange information via seminars, workshops, newsletters and homepages among researchers in the related fields. In 2014, more than 190,000 resources were collected and 83,380 resources were distributed to universities, research institutes and industry. Also, 676 SCI papers were published using resources from KNRRC and 47 patents were applied or registered.

National Biobank of Korea, Osong, Korea

Key leaders of the National Biobank of Korea include: Dr. Soo Youn Lee, Director, National Biobank, Korea National Institute of Health; Dr. Shin Jesu, Senior Deputy Director, National Biobank, Korea National Institute of Health; Dr. Han Bok-Ghee, Director, Center for Genome Science, Korea National Institute of Health; Dr. Sang Yun Cho, Deputy Scientific Director, National Biobank, Korea National Institute of Health; and Ms. Jungmin Nam, Senior Researcher, National Biobank, Korea National Institute of Health (not pictured)

Since 2001, the National Biobank of Korea (NBK) has collected and preserved population-based biospecimens for the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study (KoGES), Disease Prevention Research, Immunology and Communicable Disease Research, and Genome and Biomedical Science Research. The collected human biospecimens include whole blood, serum, plasma, blood DNA, LCL DNA, urine, lymphocytes, and EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). To date, NBK has collected biospecimens from 325,952 participants (except follow-ups), accounting for a total of 5,268,716 vials of samples. In 2011, biospecimens were collected from 85,559 participants; 35,655 vials of samples have been distributed for intramural and extramural research projects.

Among collected human biospecimens, DNA and LCL samples go through quality control procedures. DNA samples are tested for integrity, microbial (bacteria and Mycoplasma) contamination, and cross-contamination using gel electrophoresis, PCR amplification, and short tandem repeat (STR) analysis, respectively. LCL samples are tested for cell viability, microbial contamination, and cross-contamination. To date, 42,004 DNA samples have been tested for integrity and microbial contamination. The quality testing of LCLs has been performed on 1,319 LCL strains. STR analysis has been performed on 25,342 DNA samples.


Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea


Included in the photo are, among others, Dr. Sung Hwa Hong, Executive Vice President, Samsung Medical Center; Dr. Sangyong Song, Biobank Director, Samsung Medical Center; Dr. Myoyong Lee, Biobank Researcher, Samsung Medical Center; and Dr. Seong Har Kum, Researcher, Samsung Medical Center

Below: Dr. Myoyong Lee gives Andy Zaayenga a tour of the Samsung Medical Center biobank


Officially launched in March 2009, Advanced Genetic Testing Center (AGTC) of Samsung Medical Center (SMC) is Korea’s largest hospital-based genetic testing center. Using genetic materials such as chromosomes, DNA, and RNA obtained from blood or tissue, the center performs a comprehensive list of esoteric genetic tests. In response to the unprecedentedly fast-progressing genetic diagnostics and in pursuit of personalized medicine, the faculties and other members of AGTC at SMC are dedicated to developing, validating, and introducing advanced tests and platforms.


Chung-Ang University Hospital, Seoul, Korea

Follow the link for more information on the Hospital’s Pathology Department and its biobank.


Above: Andy Zaayenga presents on ISBER for the Pathology Biobank at Chung-Ang University Hospital.

Below: The key faculty and staff join Andy after the presentation. Included in the photo are, among others, Dr. Hee Sung Kim, Professor, Department of Pathology, Chung-Ang University Hospital; Dr. Young Joo Cha, Professor & Chair of Dept. of Laboratory Medicine, Chung-Ang University Hospital; Dr. Quehn Park, Research Professor, Chung-Ang University Hospital; ad Dr. Yeong-jin Choi, Director of Seoul St. Mary’s Biobank




One Response to Travels with Andy – South Korea

  1. Many of these are our GREAT clients, Thanks Andy for the virtual tour.

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