The Wales Cancer Bank was named as the 2020 UK Biobank of the Year by the UKCRC Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre at their annual Biobanking Showcase event on 16th October 2020.
The Wales Cancer Bank collects samples of tissue and blood from patients in Wales where cancer is a possible diagnosis. The samples are stored to form a biorepository to which researchers can apply for biosamples and data. Thousands of their samples have been used in research conducted across the world in order to improve treatments for cancer patients.
This year’s showcase event was held virtually across five afternoons and included some innovative breakout sessions to stimulate remote conversation. Dr Alison Parry-Jones, the Operations Director for the Wales Cancer Bank, accepted the award certificate from Gary Rooksby who is a Product Specialist for award sponsor Achiever Medical.
Dr Parry-Jones commented, “The Wales Cancer Bank is proud to receive this award and thanks the sponsor, panel and the UKCRC TDCC. This is for the wonderful team we have - it has been a challenging year, not only because of COVID and lockdown but we were applying for continuation of funding and we had a large internal (routine) audit followed by an HTA inspection in January. The staff were magnificent, pitching in to help with activities not in their job description - we managed to audit 7,000 consents in three months in preparation for the audit and inspection. COVID and lockdown has given us challenges, as it has many other biobanks, but we are now back up and running and supplying samples again to researchers. Hopefully the next 12 months will be a little quieter!’
The awarding panel were particularly impressed with the application from the Wales Cancer Bank as it demonstrated a strong performance across many of the criteria for the award. In particular their agility in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite being primarily a cancer biobank. They felt that this showed a proactive quality which underpins their service. They were also impressed with the biobank’s patient and public involvement activities. The panel commended the biobank for the overall quality of their resource.
The Wales Cancer Bank is funded by Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales and by a grant from Velindre Charitable funds. It has a close collaboration with Cancer Research Wales through the ASTRA2 initiative and is the Cardiff Clinical Hub for Cancer Research UK’s Stratified Medicine Programme.