Faculty of Philosophy, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
Biobanking is an emerging medical, research, and social institution that has many im- plications for psychological science and practice. The bibliographic study of abstracts and full text articles retrieved from major databases (PsycInfo, PubMed, EBSCO, SAgE) indicates that the role of psychology in the establishment and functioning of biobanks is not well articulated. Two promising directions of biobank-based studies are concerned with studies of risk factors for various disorders and with genetic and epigenetic mecha- nisms of psychological and behavioral trait development, and are closely tied to a devel- oping model of a new “personalized” medicine. It is important to carefully select the psy- chological variables and measurements, with consideration of their suitability for genetic studies, possibilities for networking and sharing of results, economic limitations, and biobank purposes. Of special importance is a systemic foundation of mental functions that requires not only the assessment of efficacy, but also the search for simple, natural, and objectively observable components. Applied tasks of professional psychologists in the field of biobanking can be defined, such as donor selection and management of ethi- cal issues. As a new technology, biobanking poses several challenges to society and the individual that need to be studied in order to prevent misuse and to earn the public trust. The hidden dangers of eugenics-like ideas, of consumer practices with genetic products, and of over-emphasis on human enhancement are particularly stressed. We conclude that while biobanks represent a promising and fertile ground for psychological research and applications, there is a need for a comprehensive psychology of biobanking to make them fruitful.
Keywords: biobank, depositories of human biological samples, personalized medicine, molecular genetics of human behavior, phenotype description