Biobank Borealis of Northern Finland – from bench to bedside

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 Finnish biobank collaborate via the national (Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure) network and FinBB Co-operative.


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 hospitals 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 during their pregnancies since 1983. The FMC material was transferred to Biobank Borealis in fall 2017.
  • Researchers have the opportunity to collect sample materials for their projects in collaboration with the biobank, e.g. focusing on certain diseases

 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. Feasibility and sample requests can be done via the Fingenious-portal A scientific committee will evaluate all sample and data requests. At the end of the study, the analyzed 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.

 Biobank Services for Researchers

  • Opportunity to obtain large sets of high-quality sample materials linked to various clinical data, collected and stored in controlled conditions.
  • 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 laboratory services are negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Contact Biobank Borealis via email ( ) or call us (+358 40 5049025).

More information can be found from:

Pohjois-Suomen biopankki Borealis  and


Last updated: 10.2.2020