Comments regarding the article on BBMRI.se in Expressen
Commentary: In an article on April 22, Expressen interviewed Acting Vice-Chancellor Karin Dahlman-Wright regarding the circumstances under which, in mid-March, the Swedish Research Council denied continued funding for BBMRI.se.
In an article on April 22, Expressen interviewed Acting Vice-Chancellor Karin Dahlman-Wright regarding the circumstances under which, in mid-March, the Swedish Research Council denied continued funding for BBMRI.se.
Within the scientific community, there are joint ventures for biobanks. Within Europe, there are, among other things, a common resource, which goes under the name Biobanking and Molecular Resource Infrastructure Europe (BBMRI).
In Sweden, the Swedish Research Council (VR) funded a national biobank infrastructure, BBMRI.se, which includes a number of universities, and in which Karolinska Institutet coordinated operations through its role as host university. There have been different views on how the infrastructure cooperation should be managed. In a letter sent by directors from three of the nodes to VR and others, they voiced criticisms about how resources are used, the geographic placement of infrastructure, and how communication has been managed, among other issues.
Due to the points raised in the letter, VR's Council for Research Infrastructures (RFI) decided on December 9, 2015, to postpone its decision regarding the financing of BBMRI’s funding application. VR informed KI in January that it would allow an external party to conduct an audit of the infrastructure’s finances. KI welcomes such an audit and stated that it is also preparing an internal review. KI is awaiting the results of the VR-initiated report, and will then address the possible need for additional external review.
Pending the results of these reviews, KI will not comment further on the matter. KI's activities should be characterized by high quality and withstand external scrutiny.
In its December decision, VR asked KI, as host university, to submit by March 1, 2016, an action plan for resolving the organizational issues, and that presents specific measures regarding the continued cooperation and organization of BBMRI.se. It is, of course, essential that the plan is approved and accepted by all BBMRI nodes.
KI submitted such a plan, developed in collaboration with, and approved by, the university management for seven of the eight applying constituent universities (the University of Gothenburg chose not to participate in this additional work). RFI concluded that the action plan does not adequately address measures that could help to resolve the criticisms described in the letter submitted by the three node directors. Therefore, the Council for Research Infrastructures at the Swedish Research Council decided at its meeting on March 17-18, 2016, to reject the application from BBMRI.se.