Introduction: It is important for many research stakeholders to know how many biobanks exist. There are several potential data sources that might be expected to provide biobank numbers, such as institutions, research funders, and literature databases (e.g., PubMed), but in practice this information is rarely available and is hard to find. However, the maturation of several online health research biobank locators (also known as directories and catalogs) that relate to 12 countries and/or states has now provided some initial data to address the question of how many health research biobanks exist in relation to population size. Methods: We have analyzed four biobank locators: the Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure-European Research Infrastructure Consortium directory, the Canadian Tissue Repository Network locator, the Australian New South Wales Australia Health Pathology locator, and the UK Clinical Research Collaboration Tissue Directory. Results: We conclude that across these locators, and in those regions with potential for high research capacity as indicated by comparable gross domestic products, there are 11-30 health research biobanks/million population (2 large biobanks with >1000 samples and a further 9-28 are medium-small biobanks). Conclusion: Many locators were established primarily to increase utilization of biobanks. However, locators may be more useful in tracking the numbers of biobanks and in assisting funders and institutions to monitor research strategy and prevent unnecessary duplication of biobank resources.
Keywords: biobank; locators; numbers.