Biological samples in the DNB

The Danish National Biobank (DNB) at SSI stores millions of biological samples. With some exemptions most samples are available for use in research projects and some are simply stored by SSI on behalf of an external institution

The different biological collections in DNB have been collected for diverse purposes, and further use of the samples therefore depends on the initial purpose of the collection, as disclosure of the material may be particularly regulated. SSI cannot disclose biological material for which we are not data controller, but simply store the material on behalf of an external company/institution or public authority.

Samples fall in two categories

The biological material in DNB comprises two main categories:

a) Samples that fall under SSI's data controller responsibility and decision-making competence. These include diagnostic samples submitted to SSI’s laboratory, including filter paper samples from the national neonatal screening programme (PKU cards), and/or samples from the public health service, which are passed on to the SSI who becomes data controller for the samples. Left-over material from routine tests carried out by other public health authorities may be passed on to the DNB and may be used for research purposes. Samples collected in research projects for which SSI is the data controller also fall into this category.

b) For other samples, i.e. samples simply stored by SSI (as data processor) on behalf of other parties, or samples from specific research projects in Denmark, the original collection purpose may restrict the use of the biological material for other purposes. External parties may use DNB for storage and handling of sample retrieval and delivery only. If a researcher wishes to gain access to biological material from such external parties, it is up to the steering committee for the research project in question to ensure compliance with all relevant data protection regulation and the Danish Ethical Committee Act.

Samples and data can be linked

A large percentage of DNB samples stem from specific research projects, from treatment of patients or from national screening programmes. This means that data about donors and screening results often are available. Using the Danish Biobank Register information such as donor age, gender, diagnosis, operation procedures etc. can be linked to the samples.


Overview of biological samples and diagnoses in the Danish National Biobank

Biological samples in the Danish National Biobank

Sample type  Samples Individuals
Serum  3,317,536 951,521
Dried blood spot samples 2,565,821 2,091,587
Plasma  1,488,350 442,752
Whole blood 830,524 320,872
678,237 451,455
Buffy coat  346,033 126,527
 320,456 126,054
Saliva   90,407  42,554
Red blood cells   85,349  41,738
Amniotic fluid  66,407 56,505
Cord blood mononuclear cells
 65,032 65,032
Proteins extracted from DBSS 39,168 38,979
Spinal fluid
 28,596  16,498
Other (PBMS, feces, stem cells, biopsies, etc.)
83,430 49,040

Danish National Biobank


Danish National Biobank
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