7 Questions to Linda Paulson, the new Head of Sahlgrenska biobank

Linda PaulsonWhat’s your background?

I have a PhD in medicine at the department of Neurochemistry at the Sahlgrenska Academy. After that I completed a post doc at the Arvid Carlsson Institute and a second post doc at Rikshospitalet in Oslo. In 2011 I started at Oslo University Hospital where I was in charge of setting up a biobank with five employees. In Oslo, the storage facility was placed centrally of the Oslo hospitals which had many advantages, something I hope we can achieve soon at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

What type of service does Sahlgrenska Biobank (SaB) offer?

You could say that we are helping researchers in three different ways. We are including new sample collections, we take care of already existing sample collections lacking an owner and we have also created a structure that involves fluid sample collections at Sahlgrenska Hospital and Sahlgrenska Academy for new collections to be included in our biobank. We have just now hired new staff and will extend our services out in the region.

What kind of advice and training do you offer?

We spread knowledge by offering training and courses to relevant staff on the laws and regulations governing biobanking activities, in addition to local regulations and guidelines. We also provide advice and templates for biobank research in connection with the ethics application, biobanking applications and development of patient information. To ensure traceability of biobank samples we offer IT support for sample collection documentation.

SaB was recently made part of Gothia Forum*, what benefits with this merge do you see?

This means we can offer full support to researchers and companies throughout the whole research process, from concept to implementation, testing and follow-up. I believe that together we can help to strengthen clinical research in Region Västra Götaland and Sweden.

Which research projects are SaB involved in at the moment?

The largest study we are working with right now is SCAPIS (English Cardiopulmonary bioImage Study), a Swedish research project within the heart, blood vessels and lungs filed, conducted by Sahlgrenska University Hospital and the University of Gothenburg in collaboration with the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation. A pilot study with 1,100 individuals was conducted in 2012 and a further approximately 5,000 volunteers will participate in Göteborg.

Another study we work with is Intergene/ADONIX which is related to lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, other metabolic diseases and lung disease. It is a follow up on a study conducted ten years ago.

We also have several exciting projects in the pipeline that we are looking forward to.

How can regional biobanks help strengthen clinical research in Sweden?

It makes it easier to meet applicable laws and regulations by ensuring traceability and safety. It will also make it easier for the individual researcher and safer for the patient as a regional biobank provides better overview of all sample collections.

I also believe that it promotes collaboration between researchers and institutions by making the collections searchable. Researchers can thus discover new opportunities for collaboration.

Last but not least, it strengthens the quality of clinical research. Samples are stored securely and stably for a long time.

How do you look at BBMRI as a national platform?

It is a valuable network which gives the opportunities for collaborations nationally. All the members of our group just got back from the HandsOn: Biobanks conference in Helsinki and we are all loaded with new ideas.