Asian Bioethics Review

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 301–310 | Cite as

Globalisation and the Ethics of Transnational Biobank Networks

  • Lisa DiveEmail author
  • Paul Mason
  • Edwina Light
  • Ian Kerridge
  • Wendy Lipworth
Original Paper


Biobanks are increasingly being linked together into global networks in order to maximise their capacity to identify causes of and treatments for disease. While there is great optimism about the potential of these biobank networks to contribute to personalised and data-driven medicine, there are also ethical concerns about, among other things, risks to personal privacy and exploitation of vulnerable populations. Concepts drawn from theories of globalisation can assist with the characterisation of the ethical implications of biobank networking across borders, which can, in turn, inform more ethically sophisticated responses. Using the China Kadoorie Biobank as a case study, we show how distinguishing between the subnational, transnational, supranational and extranational spheres of operation and influence can help researchers, institutions and regulators to understand and manage the ethical issues raised by the globalisation of biobanking.


Biobanks Ethics Globalisation Consent Privacy Trust 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the other investigators on this project: Cameron Stewart, Robert Cumming, Simon Easteal, Emma Kowal, Catherine Waldby, Christine Critchley, Warwick Anderson and Paula Marlton.

Funding Information

Research related to this paper has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (APP1083980).


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Copyright information

© National University of Singapore and Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sydney Health EthicsUniversity of SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Social SciencesMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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