Finland Offers a Unique Position as a Research Location Due to These Exceptional Qualities
Unique genetic heritage
Finns share a unique genetic heritage due to geographic isolation which allows faster and more effective analysis of genomic data compared to populations of more heterogeneous origins.
Well-functioning healthcare system
The entire population is covered with longitudinal electronic health records and a personal identification code that is used in all healthcare and social services. The unique identification codes enable linking of the biobank samples to deep phenotypic data, such as medical records, as well as genomic data and the national registries. This increases the value and impact of research.
World-class genomic data
Finnish biobanks have joined together in a large nationwide FinnGen research project which will generate a vast amount of genome data from up to 500,000 (every 10th Finn) biobank samples by 2023. All sample-related genome data generated in the project will return to the originating biobank where it can be combined with deep phenotypic data and be further utilized in subsequent biobank projects.
Research-advancing Biobank Act has been in force since 2013. The Biobank Act secures the rights of the donor and authorizes the collection of samples and biodata with the donor’s consent to be saved in biobanks and used for future research purposes. Act on the Secondary Use of Health and Social Data has been in force since May 2019. The Act facilitates the effective and safe processing and access to the personal social and health data. A proposal for the Genome Act is in preparation.
Possibility for recontacting sample donors
Sample donors, who have given prior consent for being contacted, can be invited for further studies. This provides an opportunity e.g. for survey studies and targeted patient recruitment for clinical trials and other biomedical research programs based on genotype and/or phenotype.
A national commitment
Significant public funds have been invested in health research and Finland frequently sits at the top of international life sciences. The Finnish government has published the Health Sector Growth Strategy for Research and Innovation, which is being implemented jointly by three ministries. The biobank ecosystem is at the core of the Strategy together with cancer research, genetic data and drug development.
Finns trust researchers and the Finnish healthcare system. Therefore, they are willing to offer their voluntary participation in public screening programs and to donate their samples to biobanks.