Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 113–128 | Cite as

Obstacles to Widening Biosample Research

  • Flora ColledgeEmail author
  • Jakob Passweg
  • Bernice ElgerEmail author
Original Paper


Switzerland has an excellent culture of medical research and is a melting pot for medical experts with international expertise. Nevertheless, as in other countries, the resources available to medical researchers are not being fully used. Biological samples, which enable a host of medical research studies to be carried out without invasive methods involving patients, are frequently left unused or forgotten. The aim of this study is to examine the experiences of biobank stakeholders regarding the use or underuse of biosamples, in order to develop paths to optimize biosample research. Interviews were carried out with 36 biobank stakeholders in Switzerland concerning their experiences with biosample use, and the possible obstacles at each stage of the process. Interviews revealed that standard operating procedures were the most frequently cited obstacle, although these were not judged to be severe hindrances. Despite a stated desire to develop biosample research, skepticism of sharing networks and wariness of new partnerships were strong themes. Biobanking still functions as an emerging field, in which exchange practices have yet to be established at the national and international levels. Sample exchange continues to function largely based on personal contacts; while this is an inherent feature of competitive medical research, opportunities for large-scale studies may be lost due to excessive caution.


Biobank Biosample Collaboration Sharing 



The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Heidi Howard, who developed the interview guide, supervised the data collection, and assisted with the coding; David Shaw, who assisted in developing codes and data analysis; and Kirsten Persson, who also give input into coding and evolution of the project. Flora Colledge’s doctoral research was funded in part by the Käthe-Zingg-Schwichtenberg Fonds of the Swiss Academy of Medical Science.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sport, Exercise and HealthUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Hematology ClinicUniversity Hospital of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute for Biomedical EthicsUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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