The Northern Biobank Initiative Phase 2 is the first biobank of its kind in British Columbia. It will enable Northern B.C. to better contribute to large-scale provincial and national research by helping to understand the demographic and genetic makeup of different populations throughout the province.
During Phase 2 of the project, the first ever biobank in Northern BC was created (and indeed, the first known community-hospital based biobank in Canada). This biobank included a retrospective collection of breast cancer specimens and associated clinical data (the Retrospective Northern Breast Cancer Biobank). The next phase of the project will engage with prospective patients, including active consenting of prospective participants and expansion of biobank services. The project engaged northern First Nations communities, in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority, to consult and determine the ideal way of governing a First Nations Biobank. The draft governance model, “Northern BC First Nations Governance Circle”, emerged from thematic analysis from focus groups and key informant interviews. The First Nations biobank will be developed in the next phase of the project, nested within the Northern Biobank infrastructure but having independent governance.
This project is part of Genome British Columbia's User Partnership Program and funded by Genome British Columbia, Northern Health Authority, the First Nations Health Authority, Provincial Health Services Authority and the BC Cancer Foundation. The University of Northern British Columbia is the lead academic institution managing the research administration for the project. This collaboration has increased equity in access to research opportunities that can improve cancer care and understanding. The result is stimulated development of research infrastructure, capacity, and access in Northern BC.