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Training the "biobankers" of tomorrow

This is the aim of the new "Biobanks and Complex Data Management" degree created by the Université Côte d'Azur. Over 2 years, this training program aims to prepare students for the management of biobanks (humans, animals, plants and other living organisms) and complex data. Interview with Marius Ilié, University Hospital Practitioner at the University Hospital Center of Nice (Biobank and Laboratory of Clinical and Experimental Pathology) and Nicole Arrighi, Associate Professor, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis (UFR Life Sciences and Health).

Publication : 23/02/2018
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  • What are the objectives of the "Biobanks and complex data management" degree?

The main objectives are to train and to professionalize the "biobankers" of tomorrow. These are the workforce of a biobank, at all levels, including managers, quality engineers, project managers, etc. This training program touches on several areas, not just human health. It also addresses plant biology, animal and microorganism collections. Students will have the opportunity to work on a specific project.

  • Where are the biobanks?

There are several types of biobanks. The classic model is the biobank integrated into a hospital, in France these are typically in public hospitals. But in recent years, we have seen the arrival of private biobanks: some biobanks (brokers) will partner with public biobanks to accumulate a very large number of samples that are made available to customers (researchers, private partners, etc.) Others are attached to pharmaceutical laboratories in order to test their drugs, conduct clinical tests. Furthermore, there are even private biobanks that connect with different suppliers of samples and that build their own collection.

  • Why is this diploma particularly necessary today?

Because, today, none of the people working in biobanks have specific training in biobanking. It did not previously exist. This workforce was formed on the job whereas the profession is becoming more and more complex. There are only 2 degrees in this field in France and only 3 in Europe (including France).

  • It includes continuing education and initial training, but is it going to be organized?

In the initial training, students will generally have a degree in biology, but there will also be atypical candidates, such as medical students or PhD students. Cohorts are limited to 15 students for very personalized training. During the two years of the program, two six-month-long internships are required, one of which must be abroad. There is also a training module within the biobank at the Nice University Hospital Center of Nice in order to fully understand the profession of a biobanker.
For continuing education, there is a “master class” project. The idea is to organize intense training, over a few days, dedicated to continuing education and including renowned invited experts.

  • What is the point of forming an IDEX Diplôme d’Etablissement?

The point is to have a strong international visibility with teaching conducted entirely in English, which increases the attractiveness for foreign students. In addition, at least one internship in a laboratory or company must take place abroad. The IDEX format will enable us to finance the international mobility of our students, as well as the use of innovative pedagogical tools, and distance learning, especially for continuing education.
More generally, we believe that the IDEX degree program will contribute to the increased attractiveness of our university education and thus to public-private partnerships for the effective and rapid immersion of our students in the “biobanker” profession.

  • What are the job opportunities?

Biobank Manager, Quality Manager, Annotations and Databases Manager, Scientific Advisor to collectors and users in the public and private sectors, Regulatory Affairs Specialist in Biobanking, Research Analyst (technological, ethical, regulatory).

(Transl. by Abby Cuttriss, 
UCA Office of Intl. Scientific Visibility)