Research nurses Rebecca Wassall and Kevin Kirby from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Royal Brompton Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit (CBRU) spent a week in May with biobank colleagues at the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS). The visit was initiated by Professor Stuart Cook, who links both sites through his role as CBRU associate director and genetics theme lead and as director of the National Heart Institute in Singapore.
Both research establishments have a biobank as a core facility for their genetics research in heart disease, so the visit provided a great opportunity to share knowledge and explore new innovations.
The CBRU biobank has been in operation a few years longer that the NHCS, which started in 2013, so Rebecca and Kevin were able to share some of the lessons learnt, particularly in participant recruitment and retention strategies, family history taking and the value of patient and public involvement in improving biobanks.
Rebecca and Kevin gave two presentations to colleagues in the NHCS, visited their genetics lab and cardiovascular MRI unit, and observed their daily research routines. They were both impressed by the database used by the Singapore, maximising the potential use of participant data across different studies.
Rebecca Wassall said: “We really appreciated the warm welcome and all the thought and effort involved in planning a very fruitful visit to Singapore. We are already making changes to some of our practice following the visit.”
Kevin Kirby said: “It was great opportunity to visit our colleagues in Singapore to find out more about their biobank and share experiences."