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Office of the Director

Laboratory Services and Biobank Group

The Laboratory Services and Biobank Group (LSB) is a Group within the Office of the Director of IARC. It provides core generic services and resources used by the laboratory and epidemiology groups across the Agency, and is a global reference point for biobanking.

The coordination of LSB’s activities is supported by the Laboratory Steering Committee (LSC) and the Biobank Steering Committee (BSC), which assist in optimizing LSB’s operational procedures.

Laboratory Services

The Laboratory Services component of LSB provides laboratory support, helps to ensure laboratory safety, and coordinates laboratory activities within the Agency.

The LSB Laboratory Services team promotes good laboratory practices and maintains a safe working environment by conducting information briefings for new laboratory staff on safe working procedures and on good laboratory practices, by conducting staff training on specific laboratory procedures and best practices, and by overseeing general laboratory safety (personal and shared protective equipment, radiation protection, and waste management).

The laboratory support to IARC research groups includes the acquisition and maintenance of equipment, routine testing services (e.g. mycoplasma testing), a central store for commonly used items, and a glassware washing service.


IARC Biobank

The Biobank component of LSB is responsible for the IARC Biobank. The Biobank is a repository for one of the most diverse international collections, containing almost 7 million biological samples: 4 million from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study and close to 3 million from other collections.

The IARC Biobank hosts more than 60 different studies led or coordinated by IARC scientists. Study designs include case series, prevalence studies, case–control studies, and cohort studies. The Biobank contains both population-based collections (which focus on gene–environment interactions in cancer) and disease-based collections (which focus on interactions between cancer prevention and biomarkers research). Most of the samples in the Biobank are body fluids, including plasma, serum, and urine as well as extracted DNA samples.

The IARC Biobank provides the following services:

  • Sample reception, inventorying, aliquoting, storage, and retrieval;
  • DNA extraction;
  • Sample management;
  • A standardized sample management system using an in-house laboratory information management system (LIMS) called SAMI; and
  • Shipment and redistribution of biological samples according to international regulations.


IARC global leadership in biobanking

LSB leads and coordinates the Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) Biobank and Cohort Building Network (BCNet), an international network of 36 institutional laboratories in 24 LMICs.

The aim of the network is to provide a global reference point in the provision of harmonized guidelines for the creation of longitudinal population cohorts and the sustainable maintenance of biobanks. Through BCNet, IARC promotes the representation of LMICs in global research on cancer by supporting the local capacity in LMICs for the provision of high-quality, research-ready samples and data.

As part of these efforts, LSB, in collaboration with the IARC Education and Training Group (ETR), has created an online Biobank Learning platform ( on the IARC Learning portal. The resources available on the Biobank Learning platform continue to expand through contributions from the BCNet partners.

In addition, LSB, in collaboration with the IARC pathology group, represents IARC in the ISO Working Group on Biotechnology standards (ISO/TC 276 – Biotechnology).


Laboratory Services and Biobank Group
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