In the next of our series of interviews with biobankers from around the world, we are delighted to hear from Tiina Vesterinen. Tiina works as a laboratory coordinator at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM). She has several years of experience in biobanking. She was the coordinator of the Helsinki Urological Biobank and is a member of the Steering Group of the Finnish Hematology Registry and Biobank (FHRB). Currently, she shares her time between the Helsinki Biobank, FIMM and her own PhD project on pulmonary carcinoid tumours.
1) Why did you first get involved in biobanking?
“After finishing my master studies in 2009, I joined the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM). FIMM was just about to start its biobanking activities and I was priviledged to join that team. Since 2010, FIMM has been a pioneer in hospital-integrated biobanking and personalized medicine in Finland.”
2) Describe a typical working day for your biobanking activity
“Nowadays I work as a coordinator at FIMM but also at the Helsinki Biobank. I'm responsible for our pathology services as well as sample deliveries for research. My typical working day consists of data queries, discussing with researchers their sample and data requests as well as trying to develop our sample access policies.”
3) Which of your biobanking achievements are you most proud of?
“In 2011-2015 I worked as a coordinator in the Helsinki Urological Biobank (HUB) which was a huge effort of the FIMM and the Helsinki University Hospital to collect a comprehensive set of different samples and data from urological patients. Within HUB I was responsible for creating sample collecting and storage logistics for tissue, blood and urine samples and had a great team to work with. HUB is now merged with Helsinki Biobank.
Another thing that makes me very proud is the Finnish Hematology Register and Biobank (FHRB). This national effort for collecting samples and data from patients with hematological disorder is really concentrated on personalized medicine as well as translation of research results into health care. I have been involved in FHRB since the very beginning and am now representing FIMM in the Steering Group.”
4) What new research area are you most excited about?
“Even if epigenetics is not that new a research area, I find it very interesting. I am also interested in studies covering biobank sustainability, as well as their potential for helping researchers to work more efficiently.”
5) If you had one piece of advice for someone starting their career in biobanking, what would it be?
“Try to imagine what kind of samples will be the most useful in the future for your customers. Should you collect different sample types on different time points of the patients' disease from a limited number of patients, or concentrate more on gaining large sample numbers by collecting, for example one sample per patient.”