Some 320 visitors from all strata of the life sciences attended HandsOn: Biobanks 2013 on 21 and 22 November at the World Forum in The Hague, Netherlands. Attendants came from the pharma and biotech field, cross-border research, patient advocacy, clinical or forensic practice, and of course biobanking itself. The conference, aimed at connecting communities, did just that: new collaborations sprung up in the Idea Labs, suggestions for closer collaboration between biobanks and pharmacogeneticists were made, and scientists inched a bit further towards industry, recognizing the benefits of DNA-tests for the general public and the value of patient involvement, both in common and rare disease. The atmosphere was very animated, the attendants listened raptly to the advances in insights and crowd-funding aspects of DTC-based biobank studies as presented from 23&Me by Stanford professor Uta Francke, and showed up en masse for the Ethics Café session, educational sessions and the plenary debate. And last but not least at the conference party at Madurodam: In touch with the Dutch – at mini-scale.
Professor Gert-Jan van Ommen
Project coordinator for BBMRI-LPC