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Nordic biobank project leads way in medical research

A Nordic pilot project drawing on biological data from national tissue banks to identify genetic and environmental risk factors for bowel cancer could provide a blueprint for the future of medical research both in the region and internationally.

The project, set to start this coming autumn, will draw on data from national tissue collections—so-called biobanks—from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland to investigate the causes of the disease. The funding comes from the Nordic research board NordForsk, and it is the first time such a large medical research project is supported by regional funds.

If the project is a success, it could pave the way for similar pan-Nordic research projects on diseases such as diabetes or heart disease. “If we achieve good results by collaborating in this way, the same principle could also be used systematically for a range of large-scale disease studies on a Nordic level,” said Gunnel Gustafsson, the director of NordForsk. The project will also feed into the development of European biobank projects.