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GEN’s editor in chief, John Sterling, interviews life science academic and biotech industry leaders on important research, technology, and trends. These podcasts will keep you informed with all the important details you need.

Many people associate Luxembourg with the banking industry, i.e., local and global financial institutions. However, that small country located in Northwest Europe recently embarked upon something completely different—the establishment of a biobank. The independent and not-for-profit Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL) plans to collect, store, analyze, and redistribute biospecimens while preserving the confidentiality of the donor's data. How the IBBL plans to do this is the subject of today’s podcast.

During this GEN podcast, Dr. Robert Hewitt talks about the rationale for creating the biobank and the path his team took in setting its goals. He discusses what Luxembourg has to offer in terms of biotechnology expertise and gives us the specifics about his plans for gaining increasing international recognition for the IBBL.

Dr. Hewitt also goes into the role played by the Phoenix, Arizona-based Translational Genomics in encouraging the formation of IBBL and explains the nature of IBBL’s collaborative research arrangements with Dr. Leroy Hood from the Institute of Systems of Biology in Seattle and Dr. Leland Hartwell of the Partnership for Personalized Medicine in Phoenix.
Dr Robert Hewitt is chief executive officer of the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL) where he has been working since July 2009.

He studied medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School, London and obtained a PhD at the Medical Research Council Virology Unit, Univ. of Glasgow. He worked 5 years in pathology as Clinical lecturer in Pathology at the University of Nottingham, before moving to Bethesda, Maryland, USA, to take up an NIH research fellowship from 1994-98 at the Lab of Pathology of the US National Cancer Institute.

Dr Hewitt has been involved in biobanking for the past 10 years, and has been involved in setting up biobanks at Hammersmith Hospital in London, UK; then King Faisal Specailist Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and then National University Hospital in Singapore (the NUH-NUS Tissue Repository) where he also established a hospital-based cancer registry. In his current position at IBBL he is responsible for developing a biobank, biorefinery and genomics technology centre which will help develop Luxembourg into a Health Sciences and Technologies Hub. A key partner in this initiative is the Translational Genomics Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

He is past-president of the International Society of Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) and during his term of office co-founded the Asian chapter of ISBER and the Forum for International Biobanking Organisations (FIBO). He is also European Editor of a recently revised journal, now called Biopreservation and Biobanking.

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