The existence of large national epidemiological databases, such as the Swedish twin register, and a large number of tissue sample collections of national importance gives the Karolinska Institutet Biobank a unique position in biobank-related research. Since the information is highly sensitive and authorised data access unacceptable, the biobank system is protected by tight security.

“We’re the first institute in the world with such an informatics system,” says Professor Jan-Eric Litton of the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “Other prominent medical centres like the Mayo Clinic in the USA are also developing similar systems.”

The establishment of the BIMS informatics system is a strategic investment at KI to support and enable future advanced clinical research. It makes it easier to find causes, diagnostic tools and cures for diseases by allowing more research scientists and research fields to make use of huge amounts of connectable data; something which will be of immense value to the next generation of research scientists.

“The main advantage is that researchers can save time and access information without having to be specialists in the area,” says Professor Litton. “So in other words they can search in English in all databanks and get comprehensible responses.”

Professor Jan-Eric Litton at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (MEB) can be contacted on 08-524 877 59 or 070-836 68 10 (mobile), or at

The Biobank Act (introduced on 1 January 2003) defines a biobank as a collection of human biological material that is stored for more than two months and that can be traced back to a particular individual. The law makes it possible to archive human biological material for the purposes of research, development, healthcare and treatment without violating the integrity of the patient. The law also lays down special rules on the handling of samples and on information technology, which can efficiently process the sensitive information linked to these samples.

The Karolinska Institutet Biobank
The Karolinska Institutet Biobank is a national non-commercial resource for the collection, handling, storage and recording of human biological material intended to promote scientific cooperation. The Biobank also serves as an asset for research into a diversity of fields, such as genetics, functional genomics and genetic and molecular epidemiology. An important scientific incentive is to make it possible for researchers to test unexplored hypotheses in a more effective and large-scale environment than has previously been available. For more information, see