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Biobank Borealis briefly in English

​​​What are biobanks?

A biobank is a collection of human samples (e.g. tissue, blood, cells, extracted DNA) that is linked to the sample donor’s health data (with the informed consent of the donors). Samples for clinical studies and diagnostic purposes have been collected throughout the history of medicine, but in the new biobank concept, defined by the Biobank Act, the collected samples can be used for a variety of future research needs, not just for a defined specific research purpose as previously. Furthermore, the new research results are obliged to be returned to the biobank that further enriches its data set.

Biobanks are key resources for unravelling the molecular basis of disease subtypes, identification of new therapeutic targets and biomarkers – all of which lead to personalized healthcare and more effective treatment strategies via translational medical research. Especially the digitalization of biological samples and generation of big data will create great opportunities to develop new forms of treatment, targeted drugs and health services.


Biobank Borealis of Northern Finland

Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District, the University of Oulu, NordLab and the hospital/healthcare districts of Lapland, Länsi-Pohja, Central Ostrobothnia and Kainuu have established a biobank in Northern Finland. The Borealis Biobank closely collaborates with the Medical Research Center Oulu. The Finnish biobank collaborate via the national (Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure) network. 


What types of samples the Borealis biobank includes?

  • The sample archive transferred from Pathology department of the Oulu University Hospital includes 1 800 000 pathology tissue and cell samples beginning from 1978. In addition, the pathology archives of four central hospital starting from early 90s are included in the Biobank Borealis collections.
  •  A rapidly growing collection of blood samples (serum, plasma, DNA) collected from people who have signed a prospective consent to participate in Biobank Borealis.
  • The Finnish Maternity Cohort (FMC) collection contains over 2 million serum samples, collected from mothers living in Finland during their pregnancies. The FMC material was transferred to Biobank Borealis in fall 2017. Based on the FMC sample material, hundreds of scientific articles and doctoral dissertations have been published since 1985.  FMC Publications 

Researchers have the opportunity to collect sample materials for their projects in collaboration with the biobank, e.g. focusing on certain diseases
A preliminary feasibility mapping or study of the research materials can be conducted cost-effectively in the early stages of the research project.


How to obtain samples, services and data from Biobank Borealis?

The biobank can assign samples and related data only for high-quality health sciences research and development. A scientific committee will evaluate all sample and data requests. You can make a feasibility and sample and data request by using FINGENIOUS portal (see link on the right side). You can also contact Biobank Borealis directly, BiopankkiBorealis (at), +358 40 5049025.


FINGENIOUS – access to biobank material

When you submit your feasibility or access request through FINGENIOUS, your request will be distributed by FINBB (Finnish Biobank Cooperative) to all six regional hospital biobanks – unless you specify which biobanks your request is aimed at. A biobank research specialist at either FINBB or a regional biobank will contact you after receiving your request.

FINGENIOUS offer direct services:

  • Feasibility requests from biobank samples and data
  • Direct communication with biobank research specialists
  • Feasibility reports uploaded
  • Access requests for biobank samples and data

FINGENIOUS is a service portal for researchers in biobank studies. Registering with FINGENIOUS is the first step to conducting a biobank study with samples and/or data from one or several regional hospital biobanks in Finland.

Please, use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge browsers. FINGENIOUS does not support Internet Explorer.

You will receive a feasibility report including the numbers of requested samples and the availability of the requested data across the regional hospital biobanks after a preliminary search. An initial feasibility service is free of charge. If compiling the feasibility report requires exceptional effort and a significant amount of time, you will be contacted to give you a cost estimate for the feasibility report.

Submitting access requests is free of charge. However, administrative costs related to access request handling will be included in the final cost estimation of your project.


Scientific Committee 

Biobank's Scientific Committee will evaluate the requests in its next meeting, which take place once a month. Specifically, the Scientific Committee evaluates the scientific level, significance and ethicality of the research project. The amount of requested material will be assessed in relation to the number of available samples and defines the criteria for selecting the samples for the research project. Additional inquiries may be submitted to the researcher. Based on the decision of the scientific committee, the manager of the biobank decides on the transfer of the material.

Following a positive decision, a material transfer agreement with the researcher's organization will be signed, and then the data can be transferred.  At the end of the study, the analysed results related to the samples and / or the raw data will be returned to the biobank as stated in the Material transfer agreement. The results of the study must also be published, e.g. in a scientific peer-reviewed journal.

The Scientific Committee covers a wide range of medical expertise. The committee may also request outside expert evaluations if needed.



  • Saila Kauppila, docent, chief physician, Oulu University Hospital/pathology


  • Minna Mäkiniemi, PhD, research services manager, secretary of regional ethical committee
  • Jukka Moilanen, docent, chief physician, medical genetics, (vice Outi Kuismin, associate chief physician)
  • Minna Ruddock, docent, research director, Northern Finland Birth Cohorts  (vice Juha Auvinen, MD)
  • Joonas Kauppila, docent, gastrosurgery (vice Juha Saarnio, professor, gastrosurgery)
  • Mirva Saaranen, docent, faculty of biochemistry and molecular medicine (vice Peppi Karppinen, professor, faculty of biochemistry and molecular medicine)
  • Tuula Toljamo, docent, clinical director, lung diseases (vice Anna Hyvärinen, MD)
  • Jussi Koivunen, docent, specialist in oncology (vice Peeter Karihtala docent, oncology)
  • Johanna Magga, docent, pharmacology (vice Jukka Hakkola, professor, pharmacology)
  • Eeva-Riitta Savolainen, docent, head of section, laboratory medicine (vice Olli Vuolteenaho, professor, chief physician, Nordlab and Oulu University)

    Presenting official
  • Raisa Serpi, director of biobank Borealis, docent (vice Pia Nyberg, docent, deputy director of biobank)

  • Anne-Mari Moilanen, PhD, project manager of biopank Borealis (vice Tiina Pekkala, MSc, Quality Manager of biobank Borealis)


Meetings of the Scientific Committee

(Last day to submit the material in parentheses):

Spring 2022
16.06. (02.06.)

Autumn 2022:

25.08. (11.08.)

22.09. (08.09.)

20.10. (06.10.)

24.11. (10.11.)

15.12. (01.1​2.)


Biobank Services for Researchers

The  biobank offers the

  • Opportunity to obtain large sets of high-quality sample materials linked to various clinical data, collected and stored in controlled conditions. In addtiution to that, biobank Borealis offers various services related to e.g. researcjh infrastructures. 
  • Collection of biobank consents, samples and related data in collaboration with researchers
  • Provision of infrastructure and tools related to the storage, management and search of samples and data
  • Opportunities for R&D collaboration in data mining and in the utilization of analysis tools. The Oulu region is a particularly attractive place for multidisciplinary research cooperation between medicine, life sciences and ICT.
  • Digitalization of tissue samples.
  • Hardware and related services in Whole Slide Imaging/Digital Pathology
  • Planning and production of tissue microarray (TMA) blocks
  • Processing and analysis of samples
  • Histological processing of tissue samples
  • Isolated DNA

The fees for the services are are based on a price list negotiated on a case-by-case basis. 


Additional information

BBMRI Finland

Medical Research Center (MRC) Oulu