Tommy’s National Reproductive Health Biobank, established in 2018, gives researchers access to a large database of biological samples. These samples help our researchers to find new ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent pregnancy complications. Biobanks have revolutionalised treatment for other conditions, such as cancer. We hope the Tommy's biobank will do the same for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
What is a biobank?
A biobank is a collection of biological samples that are used in research studies. Our biobank collects samples from pregnant and non-pregnant women and their babies.
These samples are tissues collected before, during and after normal or complex pregnancies. The samples donated by patients are linked to medical history and pregnancy outcome as well as to the baby’s health using the latest software technology.
Our biobank allows our researchers across the country to ensure that biological samples they use during clinical trials are consistent and high quality. It also means that crucial data is easy to find and is easily searchable.
Where is the biobank based?
Tommy’s researchers have found a way to combine samples, data and expertise from across the UK. Our research centres have worked closely working to create our national biobank.
Data is currently collected from the following centres across the country:
- Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research
- Tommy’s Research Centre in London
- Tommy’s Research Centre in Edinburgh
- Tommy’s Research Centre in Manchester
What difference will this biobank make?
Tommy’s Reproductive Health Biobank will help the wider research community to share samples and data more effectively and make it much easier to study pregnancy complications in large groups of women.
The tissues, donated by women who have a history of pregnancy problems, combined with clinical data, will help scientists find new causes and treatments for miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature birth.
This will help us find ways to save more babies’ lives.
"Tommy’s exists to make pregnancy and birth safer for everyone; but we still have so much to learn to identify who is at high risk. By understand this, we can personalise our approach to each person and give them more effective and better care. The Tommy’s National Reproductive Health Biobank brings together data from our leading research centres and will enable us to find new ways to save babies’ lives.”
Jane Brewin, Tommy's CEO
Tommy's National Biobank structure
In addition to our core work on miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and pre-eclampsia, Tommy’s also funds projects that research the effects of lifestyle and well-being on pregnancy and on the later life of the child.
When a baby dies after 24 weeks of gestation, it is called a stillbirth. Nearly 3000 families a year get the devastating news that their baby is not alive. Our research is helping to change this.
Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK. These babies are vulnerable – they are born before they have grown to cope with the outside world. Tommy’s is saving lives by researching how we can prevent premature births by finding those at risk early on.
Miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy with 1 in 4 women experiencing at least 1 miscarriage during their reproductive lifetime. This is a quarter of all mothers-to-be, a quarter of all families affected by loss.