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The Northern Ireland Biobank was established in 2011 to facilitate translational biomarker research, primarily in Northern Ireland but also further afield. We are based in the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research (PGJCCR), Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and are core funded by The Research and Development Division of the Health and Social Care Public Health Agency (HSC R&D) in Northern Ireland.

Although initially established as an operational partnership between QUB and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT) focused on cancer biobanking, NIB has evolved to become a regional research infrastructure creating access to biospecimens across Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Trusts for release to local researchers as well as those further afield.  

In addition to cancer biobanking, NIB has also facilitated several non-cancer related collections.

Organisational Structure

The Northern Ireland Biobank is led by a Scientific Director, currently Professor Jacqueline James. Oversight of NIB is performed by a Steering Committee who monitor the performance of NIB against its project objectives and provides strategic oversight and guidance to ensure efficient and responsible operations.  

The NIB Steering Committee meets twice a year and is chaired by a senior member of staff from one of the regional HSC Trust Research and Development Departments. The Chair is nominated by HSC R&D and confirmed by the committee members. The current Chair (2018 - present) is Dr Peter Sharpe, Director of Research and Development (R&D) and Consultant Chemical Pathologist in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust (SHSCT). The membership of the NIB Steering Committee includes representatives of the main stakeholders including HSC R&D, NIB service users, and Personal and Public Involvement (PPI) representation. 


The Health and Social Care Research and Development Division of the Public Health Agency (HSC R&D; Division) provides core funding for NIB. In the past, Cancer Research UK, Friends of the Cancer Centre, and Prostate Cancer UK have also provided financial support.

Ethics & Governance

The Northern Ireland Biobank functions within a strict regulatory framework and is compliant with the research governance requirements of key stakeholders, namely Queen's University Belfast and the Health ad Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland. NIB is an NHS Research Ethics Committee (REC) approved Research Tissue Bank.  Ethical approval is granted by The Office for Research Ethics Committees in Northern Ireland (ORECNI) (reference 21/NI/0019) and is subject to renewal every five years.

NIB samples are stored under the QUB Human Tissue Authority (HTA) Research Licence (Licence Number 12044), for which the Designated Individual (DI) is Professor Jacqueline James.