All across Europe, biobanks are appearing, expanding, storing, and circulating biological material, highly linked to the expansion of technologies of cold and advances in techniques of cryopreservation of biological material. They have become an indispensable infrastructure for medicine, biology, plant breeding, ecological research, and many other life sciences. At the same time, however, biobanks are also vanishing, scaling down their operations and losing sight of their accessions. There are redundancies as well as gaps between the activities of biobanks, competing visions and unexpected convergences between otherwise unrelated fields. Some biobanked materials circulate well, perhaps too well. Others, in turn, are difficult to near-impossible to biobank. Collections that flourish in one European country may be absent across the border.
What does it mean to do biobanking in Europe today? How do national contexts differ from each other? What difference do the biobanked materials themselves make, and how are these levelled or amplified by biobanks’ infrastructure? What challenges are there for biobanking business across borders, despite decades of European integration? These are questions we have encountered time and again in our ERC project CRYOSOCIETIES on Suspended Life: Exploring Cryopreservation Practices in Contemporary Societies. This two-day workshop is meant to bring perspectives from various fields of the life sciences and different European countries into dialogue.
The conference will not be open to the public.