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Keynote speaker

Very large-scale biobank projects, experiences from FinnGen

Professor Aarno Palotie, FinnGen

FinnGen is a large public-private partnership aiming to collect and analyse genome and health data from 500,000 Finnish biobank participants by 2023. FinnGen aims on one hand to provide novel medically and therapeutically relevant insights but also construct a world-class resource that can be applied for future studies.

As of May 2022, the Finnish biobanks have collected DNA samples from more than 530 000 possible FinnGen participants. From these, the FinnGen study produces comprehensive genome variant data using genome-wide genotyping and imputation that is based on a population specific sequencing imputation backbone. Using this strategy, variants can be reliably imputed down to very low frequency due to the strong bottleneck effect which the Finnish population has experienced.

Read more about the project

The study utilizes the extensive longitudinal health register data available on all Finns that record hospital and outpatient visits, prescription drug purchases, causes of death and many others. These registers cover the entire lifespan and have been digitalized for decades. This data provides unique opportunities to study disease associations (GWAS and PheWAS), disease trajectories and comorbidities.

The latest data freeze from April 2022 consists of over 392 000 individuals. The study has so far identified over 400 new disease associated loci where the associated variant is enriched in the Finnish population, including over 150 damaging coding variants. These provide potential for further functional studies and new insight in disease mechanisms. FinnGen releases summary level results for the whole research community twice a year.

The study currently involves Finnish biobanks, University Hospitals and their respective Universities, the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service and twelve pharmaceutical companies. www.finngen.fi/en


Professor Aarno Palotie, M.D., Ph.D. is the research director of the Human Genomics program at FIMM-HiLife. He is also a faculty member at the Center for Human Genome Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He has a long track record in human disease genetics. He has hold professorships and group leader positions at the University of Helsinki, UCLA and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. He has also been the director of the Finnish Genome Center and Laboratory of Molecular Genetics in the Helsinki University Hospital. He is the Scientific Director of the large FinnGen project that combines the genome and national health record data from 500 000 Finnish participants.

Aarno Palotie


Keynote speaker

Professor Hilma Holm, deCODE genetics


Hilma Holm, MD, is the head of the Cardiovascular Research Department at deCODE genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland. She is an expert in echocardiology, cardiovascular genetics and population genetics research. Dr. Holm is actively involved in a wide range of genetic research, including on lipids and atherosclerosis, cardiac conduction and arrhythmias, congenital heart disesae, valve disease and heart failure. Dr. Holm also directs the deCODE Health Study, a prospective cohort study in Iceland with extensive phenotypic and genotypic information.


Coffee break – Exhibition and Posters


Symposium 1

Combining registries with biobank samples

Stored human biological material suitable for modern molecular analysis in combination with clinical and demographic registries are the most critical resources for research-based translation of advances in molecular biology and advanced technologies into improved human health.  The in-depth characterization of human diversity as dictated by variation in the sequences of genomes is now possible on a population-scale. Coupled with longitudinal information about disease risk factors, etiological processes and outcomes, an unparalleled opportunity currently exists to optimize prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of many acute and chronic diseases.

Chair: Lasse Boding, PhD, Head of Coordinating Centre, Danish National Biobank. Statens Serum Institut, Denmark. 

Invited speakers


Henrik Ullum, CEO, Statens Serum Institut, Denmark

Understanding health and disease by leveraging the potential of large national biobanks and health registries


Åke Lernmark, Senior Professor, Lund University, Sweden

The TEDDY study – understanding diabetes in the young by combining big data and biobanking.

Oral abstract presenters


Minttu Sauramo, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland

THL Biobank’s Availability Service utilizes register data for focused responses on researchers’ feasibility studies. 


Maria Wennberg, PhD Umeå University, Sweden

The Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study – Prospective blood samples and data from >140 000 individuals in Västerbotten county.


General Lunch in Exhibit Hall – Exhibition & Posters


Symposium 2a

Sample quality

During the sample quality session, the topics will include sampling techniques and the effect of sampling on sample quality, the impact of sample quality on false findings in research, and how to classify and control for sample quality which is “fit for purpose”. 

Chair: Åsa Torinsson Naluai, Associate Professor at Sahlgrenska Academy and Biobank West at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden

Invited speakers


Laura Goobar Larsson, PhD, Line Manager, Biobank och Studier, Karolinska University Laboratory, Sweden


Anne Jorunn Vikdal, Project coordinator/Biomedical Laboratory Scientist, HUNT Biobank, Quality manager, Biobank Norway, Norway

Oral abstract presenters


Christoph Brochhausen, Professor University Regensburg, Germany

Structural and molecular quality of Tissue samples after 10 years storage under different protocols based on -80°C and liquid nitrogen.


Anders Pedersen, PhD University of Gothenburg, Sweden

NMR as a general tool for assessing serum/plasma sample quality: identify sampling tube, sample integrity and other preanalytical characteristics.

Panel discussion


Minimizing Sampling Bias – how to make samples usable in the long perspective and to avoid false positive and false negative findings.

Anne Jorunn Vikdal, Project coordinator/Biomedical Laboratory Scientist, HUNT Biobank, Quality manager for Biobank Norway

Laura Goobar Larsson, PhD, Line Manager, Biobank och Studier, Karolinska University Laboratory, Sweden

Christoph Brochhausen, Professor University Regensburg, Germany

Anders Pedersen, PhD University of Gothenburg, Sweden


Symposium 2b

Biobank research brings a number of ethical and societal challenges such as finding appropriate avenues to inform participants about data and sample uses, involving participants in the research processes, and ensuring that participant trust and stakeholder engagement is maintained. In this session, particular focus will be put on some key ethical considerations in biobanking including and approaches for the ethically and legally robust sharing of data between Nordic countries. 

Chair: Isabelle Budin Ljøsne, PhD, Norwegian Institute of Public Health/ Biobank Norway – CS2 ELSI Norway 

Invited speakers


Ann M. Gronowski, PhD, Professor of Pathology & Immunology, and Obstetrics & Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, USA

Ethical issues in laboratory medicine


Heidi Beate Bentzen, PhD, Researcher, University of Oslo, Norway

Data sharing between countries

Oral abstract presenters


Janna Nissen, PhD Copenhagen Hospital Biobank, Denmark

Experience from information letter sent to 301.363 patients with a sample in The Copenhagen Hospital Biobank.


Gesine Richter, University of Kiel, Germany

Secondary research use of personal medical data: Patient attitudes towards data donation.


Coffee break – Exhibition and Posters


Symposium 3a

Next generation biobanking

This session will address the topic from several angles.

The current pandemic has shown that established biobanks may play a new and crucial role as an invaluable clinical platform for contingency studies of a new and life-threatening disease where valid prospective, population-based research is pivotal. We see an outline of a next generation biobanking contributing more directly and immediate to clinical translation of research.

Biobanks struggle with incomplete technical solutions and huge costs for automated storage at ultralow temperatures. Will new technologies markedly change the handling of biobank samples? Is Room Temperature Samples Storage (RTSS) the future solutions? 

Chair: Kristian Hveem, Professor, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Biobank Norway, Norway

Invited speakers


Bart Wilkowski, PhD, Head of IT, Denmark National Biobank, Statens Serum Institut, Denmark 


Thomas Illig, Professor, MD, PhD, Scientific Head of Hannover Unified Biobank, Head of Research of the Department of Human Genetics, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Germany

Oral abstract presenters


Christian Stephan, KAIROS – an IQVIA business, Germany

Next Generation Biobanking: The Future of Personalized Medicine.


Thorben Seeger, Lifebit Biotech Ltd, UK

Delivery of Federated Trusted Research Environments for collaborative, secure analysis of distributed clinico-genomic data.


Symposium 3b

Biobank sustainability

Building up a sustainable biobank infrastructure includes challenges and opportunities. In this session we will discuss different strategies biobanks can adopt towards sustainable biobanking. Examples will be given of public-private partnerships, the creation of new resources to increase the value of the biobank and providing new types of research services. In addition, ways to advertise and present the biobank resources to the large research community will be explored.

Chair: Kaisa Silander, THL Biobank, research manager, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland 

Invited speakers


Marco Hautalathi, Chief Executive Officer FINBB, Finland

Fingenious – Your gateway to Finnish Biobanks and Biomedical Research.


Kristian Hveem, Professor, Head of Hunt Biobank, Biobank Norway – Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Oral abstract presenters


Linda Paavilainen, Uppsala Biobank, Sweden

It’s Imperative to be Intuitive – How to lower the threshold for access to samples.


Niina Eklund, Finnish Institute For Health And Welfare, Finland

THL Biobank provides endless possibilities in health-related research. 


Wrap up the day


Welcome Reception by the city of Gothenburg in collaboration with Region Västra Götaland and includes a buffet and drinks. The reception is open for all registered participants.

Pre-registration is mandatory.


Conference dinner

Pre-registration is mandatory.

Venue tba.