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Accepted Paper:

Biobanking logic and logistics in Spain: calibrating sample accumulation and sharing in biomedical research  
Violeta Argudo-Portal (Universitat de Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

Biobanks, human-based biorepositories, are crucial in the contemporary biomedical research supply chains. This paper delves into biobankers calibrating practices around sample accumulation and the heterogeneous logics and ways of generating value as part of the knowledge and drugs economy.

Paper long abstract:

Contemporary biomedical research and drug development rely upon infrastructures such as biobanks, a type of biorepository, that collect, process, store, and distribute human-based biological samples and associated data for biomedical research. Biobanks are a crucial part of the biomedical supply chain. Since their formal establishment in the early 2000s, biobanks have drawn anthropologists’ attention regarding tissue commodification or ethical discussions on sample donation. However, much less attention and research revolve around the quotidian work of biobanks’ staff. This paper presents an ethnographic study in Spain with biobankers (understood as anyone working in a biobank), attending to their daily work and concerns. The study pivoted around the following staff concern: making biobanks worth maintaining public research infrastructures for the “scientific common good.” From this context, I will present how biobankers are invested in making biobanks worth maintaining, which requires reconfiguring biobanks’ logic and logistics. Sample accumulation is not only being displaced but also denotes malpractice. Biobanking logistics in Spain are turned upon facilitating dynamism, storing only “what is needed” and sharing but “not too much,” which requires calibration practices. Routinely fulfilling the deposits is being questioned, and what matters in biobanking transformed. The transformation of biobanking logistics and logic is challenging anchored meanings and imaginaries about cryopreservation and accumulation to produce biomedical knowledge. This study on biobanking serves to delve into an anthropology of biomedical infrastructures logistics while exploring the heterogeneous logics and ways of generating value as part of the knowledge and drugs economy.

Panel P006a
Logistical Transformations: Supply Chains and the Politics of Circulation I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -