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J Law Med. 2008 Feb;15(4):538-55.

Human genetic research databases and biobanks: towards uniform terminology and Australian best practice.

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University of Tasmania, Australia.


This article examines international best practice for the establishment, maintenance and use of human genetic research databases (HGRDs), particularly focusing on large-scale population biobanks, and considers the measures that should be taken in Australia to comply with this best practice. These HGRDs play a pivotal role in basic research aimed at understanding the basis of human disease at the genetic level, and applied research aimed at putting that basic knowledge into practical application. In particular, the large-scale biobanks are vital research tools in the drive to uncover the causes and consequences of human health and disease. Biobanks are being established at regional, national and international levels throughout the world. Although their governance structures are uniformly complex, some best practices are emerging with regard to consent (particularly consent to future research and withdrawal of consent), privacy and data protection and intellectual property ownership and access. Best practices with regard to benefit-sharing are emerging much more slowly. This article reviews these international best practices with the aim of providing guidance for the development of appropriate regulatory structures in Australia.

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