Emerging technologies

Biological Resource Centres


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Biological Resource Centres

Biological Resource Centres (BRCs) are considered to be one of the key elements for sustainable international scientific infrastructure, which is necessary to underpin successful delivery of the benefits of biotechnology, whether within the health sector, the industrial sector or other sectors, and in turn ensure that these advances help drive growth.


“OECD Best Practice Guidelines for BRCs” comprised of the report of the Task Force on BRCs, were agreed by OECD member countries in March 2007.


The Best Practice Guidelines comprise two main parts. Part I sets out the background and rationale to the project as well as describing the methodology used for the articulation of best practice guidelines. A number of general recommendations (principally related to the implementation and review of the best practice guidelines) are set out in the last chapter. Part II of the report comprises the best practice guidelines themselves. Four sets of best practice guidelines are included dealing with

  • General quality aspects
  • Biosecurity-related issues
  • Specific guidelines for BRCs holding and supplying micro-organisms
  • Specific guidelines for BRCs holding and supplying human-derived materials.

Finally, optional best practice guidelines are provided on the establishment of national certification system related to the best practices. 


A Workshop was organised in Paris on “The Global Biological Resource Centres Network – Networking the Networks”. The workshop aimed at developing recommendations and consensus on practical measures towards establishment of an inclusive, virtual global network of BRCs, drawing on existing networking practice. 



The threat of bioterrorism gives rise to the need for security measures in legitimate bioscience facilities that work with, store or transfer dangerous biological material to protect them from being lost or stolen and subsequently misused for malevolent ends.


The OECD Committee on Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP) agreed “Best Practice Guidelines on Biosecurity for BRCs” (Biological Resource Centres) in March 2007.  The Guidelines on Biosecurity contain a framework on Risk Assessment to guide BRCs in classifying pathogens, for example, according to one of four biosecurity risk levels, and robust Risk Management measures that may be applied as a function of a particular pathogen’s biosecurity risk level.


Synthethic Biology

Synthetic biology refers to the design and construction of new biological parts, devices and systems which do not exist in the natural world and to the redesign of existing biological systems to perform specific tasks. Basically, synthetic biology breaks down biological processes (e.g. protein production from a gene) to then builds systems that perform a particular desired function (e.g. oscillators which can produce protein on demand).