The role of a Bioresource Research Impact Factor as an incentive to share human bioresources.

Article (PDF Available)inNature Genetics 43(6):503-4 · June 2011with 121 Reads
DOI: 10.1038/ng.831 · Source: PubMed
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This editorial talks about Bioresources (for example, biobanks, databases and bioinformatics tools) and why these need to be easily accessible to facilitate advancement of research. The authors comment on the proposition of a Bioresource Research Impact Factor (BRIF), which would promotethe sharing of bioresources by creating a link between their initiators or implementers and the impact of the scientific research using them.
nature genetics | volume 43 | number 6 | june 2011 503
many different aspects of bioresource utili-
zation, including economic implications, it
was decided to concentrate first on use and
impact in research settings.
Access and sharing policies have been
developed over the years6. However, the
incentivization of bioresources to promote
access needs to be balanced with appropriate
provisions compatible with all stakeholder
interests, that is, proper recognition of sci-
entific contribution and sustainability sup-
ported by the capacity for measuring their
own resource use and impact. There are no
mechanisms in place to measure this impact.
Empowering bioresources with tools such as
BRIF is therefore urgent.
The full impact of bioresources is wider
than BRIF, but unique bioresource identi-
fiers and metrics must be established as the
first operational step. The present prolifera-
tion of ideas, statements and proposals around
data sharing from different perspectives and
stakeholders1–3,7 favors the implementation
of tools such as BRIF in order to make data
sharing principles operational. Workshop par-
ticipants and members of the working group
urge concerned stakeholders to join our efforts
in developing such an instrument.
The BRIF workshop was funded by the European
Community’s Seventh Framework project ‘Biobanking
and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure
(BBMRI), grant agreement 212111. The BRIF
research also received funds from FP7 collaborative
projects GEN2PHEN (Genotype-to-Phenotype
Databases: A Holistic Solution), grant agreement
200754 and BioSHaRE-EU (Biobank Standardisation
and Harmonisation for Research Excellence in the
European Union) and grant agreement 261433.
In addition to thanking all the BRIF workshop
participants for their active contribution, we wish to
thank E. Bravo, A. Garcia-Montero, M. Morente,
C. Neylon, C. Schröder, V. Tate, S. Wallace and
M. Yuille for having provided input in the global debate
through the BRIF online forum and for discussion.
A.C.-T. has been directing the BRIF initiative from
the birth of concept. L.M. has been involved in
organizing the working group and the workshop
of bioresources was recognized by all; we
focused on shared aims but underlined that
each community had specific aspects to con-
sider and resolve.
Bioresources need to be identified by a
unique digital identifier (ID), ideally through
existing mechanisms4. Digital object identi-
fiers (DOIs) may be interesting (http://www. Several issues must be considered,
including what to identify (biobank, collec-
tion, database, dataset, subset and version),
identifier requirements (persistent over time,
globally unique, citable) and which inter-
national and independent body should be
responsible for assigning bioresource IDs.
Working subgroups were created to address
those questions. Attribution of credit to sci-
entists for different kinds of work (in addi-
tion to publications) using researcher IDs
was also discussed. The ORCID initiative
( is building a new
contributor ID framework which should, in
principle, enable credit to be given to both
bioresources and individuals involved in
their creation and maintenance.
Standardization of citation is necessary but
could be combined with existing referencing
standards and conventions5, such as citing
marker papers, standardized sentences in
the materials and methods or acknowledg-
ments sections of papers, co-authorship when
justified and including the resource name in
the paper title. Specific requirements for cit-
ing bioresources are lacking in the Uniform
Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to
Biomedical Journals (
urm_main.html, version April 2010) and
should be added. In order to enable auto-
mated tracking of bioresource use, the biore-
source ID should ideally appear in or under
the abstract section in order to be visible even
without access to the full text of articles.
BRIF should not be a citation index only.
Factors such as time and domain of biore-
sources need to be considered in the calcula-
tion process and its weighting. Although the
BRIF scope could be extended to measure
To the Editor:
Numerous health research funding institu-
tions have recently expressed their strong
will to promote data sharing1 (http://www. As under-
lined in a recent editorial in Nature Medicine,
an operational approach is needed to
achieve this goal2. Bioresources such as
biobanks, databases and bioinformatics
tools are important elements in this land-
scape. Bioresources need to be easily acces-
sible to facilitate advancement of research.
Besides technical and ethical aspects, a major
obstacle for sharing them is the absence of
recognition of the effort behind establish-
ing and maintaining such resources. The
main objective of proposing a Bioresource
Research Impact Factor (BRIF) is to promote
the sharing of bioresources by creating a link
between their initiators or implementers and
the impact of the scientific research using
them3. A BRIF would make it possible to
trace the quantitative use of a bioresource,
the kind of research using it and the efforts
of the people and institutions that construct
it and make it available.
In the context of EU projects, a BRIF work-
ing group has been set up, including 101 par-
ticipants so far (
The work involves several steps: creating a
unique identifier, standardizing bioresource
acknowledgment in papers, cataloging biore-
source data access and sharing policies, iden-
tifying other parameters to take into account,
and prototype testing with the help of volun-
teer bioresources and journal editors.
The first BRIF workshop was held in
Toulouse, France (Januar y 17–18, 2011),
gathering 34 people from ten countries and
representing various domains: biobanks,
genome databases, epidemiological longi-
tudinal cohorts, bioinformatics, scientific
publishing, bibliometry, health law and
bioethics (
collections/brif-workshop-januar y-2011).
The lack of objective measures for the use
The role of a bioresource research impact factor as an
incentive to share human bioresources
© 2011 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.
504 volume 43 | number 6 | june 2011 | nature genetics
1018, Villejuif, France. 20Estonian Genome
Center, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
21Laboratorio ImmunoBiología Molecular,
Spanish HIV HGM BioBank, Madrid, Spain.
22Department of Medical Genetics, University
of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary. 23Estonian Genome
Center, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology,
University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia. 24Estonian
Biocentre, Tartu, Estonia. 25Biobusiness
Consulting, Inc., Lowell, Massachusetts, USA.
26Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Rome, Italy.
27World Health Organization, Department
of Health Statistics & Informatics, Geneva,
Switzerland. 28National Institute for Cancer
Research, Genoa, Italy. 29International
Prevention Research Institute, Lyon, France.
30Fundació IMIM, Barcelona, Spain.
31Thomson Reuters, Toulouse, France.
32Claudius Regaud Institute, Toulouse, France.
33Biomed Central, London, UK. 34Latvian
Biomedical Research and Study Center, Genome
Database of Latvian Population [LGDB], Riga,
Latvia. 35McGill University, Centre of Genomics
and Policy, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
1. Walport, M. & Brest, P. Lancet 377, 2011–2018
2. Anonymous. Nat. Med. 17, 137 (2011).
3. Cambon-Thomsen, A. Nat. Genet. 34, 25–26 (2003).
4. Kauffmann, F. & Cambon-Thomsen, A. J. Am. Med.
Assoc. 299, 2316–2318 (2008).
5. Peterson, J. & Campbell, J. Nat. Genet. 42, 919
6. Kaye, J., Heeney, C., Hawkins, N., de Vries, J. &
Boddington, P. Nat. Rev. Genet. 10, 331–335 (2009).
7. Toronto International Data Release Workshop Authors
et al. Nature 461, 168–170 (2009).
Federica Napolitani26, Mikkel Z Oestergaard27,
Barbara Parodi28, Markus Pasterk29,
Acacia Reiche30, Emmanuelle Rial-Sebbag5,6,
Guillaume Rivalle31, Philippe Rochaix32,
Guillaume Susbielle33, Linda Tarasova34,
Mogens Thomsen5,6, Gudmundur A Thorisson11,
Ma’n H Zawati35 & Marie Zins 15,16
5Inserm, UMR1027, Epidemiology and
Analyses in Public Health, Toulouse, France.
6Université de Toulouse, Université Paul
Sabatier, Toulouse III, UMR 1027, Toulouse,
France. 7Center for Genomic Regulation,
Barcelona, Spain. 8University of Amsterdam,
Department of Philosophy, Amsterdam, The
Netherlands. 9Australian Breast Cancer Tissue
Bank, University of Sydney, New South Wales,
Sydney, Australia. 10Inserm, Public Health
Institute, Paris, France. 11Department of
Genetics, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK.
12P3G, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 133C-R,
Toulouse, France. 14Laboratorio Diagnosi
Pre-Postnatale Malattie Metaboliche, Istituto
G. Gaslini, G. Gaslini Institute, Genova,
Ita ly. 15Inserm U1018, Centre for Research in
Epidemiology and Population Health, Villejuif,
France. 16Versailles-Saint Quentin University,
UMRS 1018, Versailles, France. 17European,
Middle Eastern and African Society for
Biopreservation and Biobanking (ESBB), Aix en
Provence, France. 18Laboratory of Clinical and
Experimental Pathology & Human Biobank,
Pasteur Hospital, University of Nice Sophia,
Nice, France. 19Paris Sud University, UMRS
and has participated in the writing of this
correspondence. G.A.T. has been very active in
commenting and amending this correspondence
and proposing references and relevant URLs. The
workshop group participants have actively fueled
the whole debate, part of which is reported in the
present correspondence.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Anne Cambon-Thomsen1,2,
Gudmundur A Thorisson3 & L aurence Mabile1,2
for the BRIF workshop group4
1Inserm, UMR1027, Epidemiology and
Analyses in Public Health, Toulouse, France.
2Université de Toulouse, Université Paul
Sabatier, Toulouse III, UMR 1027, Toulouse,
France. 3Department of Genetics, University
of Leicester, Leicester, UK. 4A full list of
members appears at the end of the paper.
Correspondence should be addressed to
A.C.-T. (
Sandrine Andrieu5,6, Gabrielle Bertier7,
Martin Boeckhout8, Anne Cambon-Thomsen5,6,
Jane Carpenter9, Georges Dagher10,
Raymond Dalgleish11, Mylène Deschênes12,
Jeanne Hélène di Donato13, Mirella Filocamo14,
Marcel Goldberg15,16, Robert Hewitt17,
Paul Hofman18, Francine Kauffmann15,19,
Liis Leitsalu20, Irene Lomba21,
Laurence Mabile5,6, Bela Melegh22,
Andres Metspalu20,23,24, Lisa Miranda25,
© 2011 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.
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