Globalisation and the Ethics of Transnational Biobank Networks
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.
KeywordsBiobanks 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.
Research related to this paper has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (APP1083980).
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