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Book and Media Reviews
August 25, 2010

The Ethics of Research Biobanking

JAMA. 2010;304(8):908-910. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1212

The topic of this book is timely. Biobanks, defined as collections of biological materials or samples, exist on every continent of the globe. In the United States, recent studies demonstrate that more than 350 million specimens are stored in pathology laboratories, newborn screening collections, forensic DNA banks, blood banks, umbilical cord banks, organ procurement entities, sperm banks, research-related repositories used for longitudinal studies, and banks of brain, breast, and other types of tissue. This number does not include proprietary databases, military banks, privately maintained collections, or biobanks maintained in university and hospital laboratories. A conservative estimate of the number of samples stored in repositories around the world exceeds 1 billion. In 2009, Time magazine declared biobanks one of the “Ten Ideas That Are Changing the World Right Now.”

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