The Marble Arch Working Group

for biobanking for biomedical research

About us

The Marble Arch Working Group (“MAWG”) is a network of individual biobanking experts.

The MAWG was formed initially by a small number of individuals from leading biobanks from countries around the world. The intention was to provide a forum where biobankers can engage in interactive discussion around existing and emerging topics, issues, and solutions relevant to biobanking and ideas can be freely exchanged, commonality can be found and the opinions of the group or part of the group can be disseminated through publication.

Since the inaugural meeting in London UK 2005 the group has held annual or biannual meetings mostly in conjunction with international biobank meetings held by the International Society of Biological and Environmental Repositories and the European, Middle Eastern, & African Society for Biopreservation and Biobanking.

The MAWG is not a legal entity; it is informal, governed by the participants, and exists for mutual benefit and the wider public good.


The collection, annotation, storage and subsequent use of human biosamples and related data are essential parts of biomedical research. Biobanking is an activity that contributes to and supports research that leads to the possibility that preventative measures or prognostic indicators for disease may be identified. Thus, future patients may access novel therapies or pathology and molecular based diagnostic and prognostic tests.

Biobanks (also known as repositories) collect, store, annotate and distribute biosamples and act as service providers for research using living cells, preserved cells, body fluids and tissues, or extracts of the aforementioned materials, and of data relating to these materials. Developing and managing a biobank requires adherence to defined requirements (legal, ethical) and best practices (operational). Biobanks are subject to conventions, consensus recommendations and sets of regulations at local, national and international levels.

Networking between biobanks is often essential for many aspects of biomedical research, including multi-centre studies and clinical trials, studies on rare pathologies, and comparative studies aimed at assessing the etiological, pathological and genetic heterogeneity of common diseases including cancer. Biobanks are the cornerstone of translational approaches in molecular medicine.

The specific objectives of the MAWG are:

1. To promote academic discussions between participants and disseminate consensus on best practices for biobanks and biobanking, to assist in biobank development by providing advice and mutual support, and to promote networking between biobanks by developing procedures and practices that facilitate the sharing of resources and knowledge.

2. To present a mechanism and informal meeting place for exchange of information and a platform for the development of international collaborative efforts.

3. To facilitate the sharing of knowledge around issues within countries and regions across the group for discussion of solutions and promotion of consensual standards acceptable and applicable to biobanking across different organizations.

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1. Participants of the MAWG are individual professionals who are experts in biobanking. Membership is on an individual basis and participants do not represent their institutions or organizations.

2. Membership has grown from 20 individuals at the inaugural meeting to over 40 with new members joining through a nomination and election process.

3. Participants are expected to share their expertise and ideas and generate ideas and seek to identify common outcomes or the basis and need for divergence.

4. The MAWG is guided by an executive committee (up to 5 people including a chair and a coordinator) who are elected by open majority voting for a period of up to 3 years.

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ACTIVITY 2005-2010

The following is a list of past meetings of the MAWG:

London, UK, 2005

Madrid, Spain, 2006

Amiens, France, 2007

Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2007

Dublin, Ireland, 2008

Milan, Italy, 2008

Montreal, Canada, 2009

Jerusalem, Israel, 2010

Rotterdam, Holland, 2010

ACTIVITY 2011- Present

Washington, USA, 2011

Vancouver, Canada, 2012

Granada, Spain, 2012

Sydney, Australia, 2013

Verona, Italy, 2013

Orlando, USA, 2014

Pheonix, USA, 2015

Berlin, Germany, 2016

Bethesda, USA, 2016

Toronto, Canada, 2017

Stockholm, Sweden, 2017


The following is a partial list of publications arising from ideas created, developed, or refined through interactions, input, or discussion at MAWG meetings

Gaffney EF, Riegman PH, Grizzle WE, Watson PH. The factors that drive the increasing use of FFPE tissue in basic and translational cancer research. Under revision, Biotechnic & Histochemistry

Matzke LA, Babinszky S, Slotty A, Meredith A, Castillo-Pelayo T, Henderson MK,Simeon-Dubach D, Schacter B, Watson PH. Biospecimen User Fees: Global Feedback on a Calculator Tool. Biopreserv Biobank. 2017 Feb;15(1):57-64. doi:10.1089/bio.2016.0027. Epub 2016 Aug 30. PubMed PMID: 27576065; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5335806.

Hewitt R, Watson P. Defining biobank. Biopreserv Biobank. 2013 Oct;11(5):309-15. doi: 10.1089/bio.2013.0042. Epub 2013 Oct 8. PubMed PMID: 24835262.

Watson PH, Nussbeck SY, Carter C, O'Donoghue S, Cheah S, Matzke LA, Barnes RO, Bartlett J, Carpenter J, Grizzle WE, Johnston RN, Mes-Masson AM, Murphy L, Sexton K, Shepherd L, Simeon-Dubach D, Zeps N, Schacter B. A framework for biobank sustainability. Biopreserv Biobank. 2014 Feb;12(1):60-8. doi: 10.1089/bio.2013.0064. PubMed PMID: 24620771; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4150367.

Simeon-Dubach D, Watson P. Biobanking 3.0: evidence based and customer focused biobanking. Clin Biochem. 2014 Mar;47(4-5):300-8. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2013.12.018. Epub 2014 Jan 6. PubMed PMID: 24406300.

Meir K, Gaffney EF, Simeon-Dubach D, Ravid R, Watson PH, Schacter B, Morente And The Marble Arch International Working Group On Biobanking MM. The human face of biobank networks for translational research. Biopreserv Biobank. 2011 Sep;9(3):279-85. doi: 10.1089/bio.2011.0018. PubMed PMID: 24850340.

Betsou F, Rimm DL, Watson PH, Womack C, Hubel A, Coleman RA, Horn L, Terry SF, Zeps N, Clark BJ, Miranda LB, Hewitt RE, Elliott GD. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for biorepositories in the next three to five years? Biopreserv Biobank. 2010 Jun;8(2):81-8. doi: 10.1089/bio.2010.8210. PubMed PMID: 24845936.

Riegman PH, Morente MM, Betsou F, de Blasio P, Geary P; Marble Arch