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This page was published on 27/12/2006
Published: 27/12/2006

   Science in society

Published: 27 December 2006  
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Science in society  |  Health & life sciences


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EU Network setting the standard for genetic testing

With the recent rapid increase of innovation in genetic testing and a boom in for-sale services, particularly through the Internet, European Union policy makers have agreed upon a need for an established regime of standards and practices across the continent. To ensure that Europeans remain well informed of the growing market and to facilitate the development of a pan-European standard for genetic testing, the EU has funded the Network of Excellence (NoE) EuroGentest. EuroGentest held its first expert workshop recently in Leuven, Belgium. The workshop, considered a success by both organisers and participants, focused on quality management and accreditation for European genetic testing laboratories.

EuroGentest aims to harmonise disparate testing standards. © Matt+
EuroGentest aims to harmonise disparate testing standards.
The recent expert workshop was organised by Prof Els Dequeker from Leuven; Dr Michael Morris from Geneva, Management Consulting and Research (MCR), a spin-off of the Catholic University of Leuven and the Unit 1 team of the project. Through small group sessions, it focused on ISO and related national standards, document management, non-conformities, auditing, training and IT support.

Participants included lab directors, scientists, technicians and quality managers from accredited and non-accredited laboratories across Europe.

Victoria Aldridge, a researcher from the Regional Molecular Genetics Laboratory in London noted that even though her organisation is already accredited the workshops were beneficial because they allowed her the opportunity to learn from others' experiences, in addition to serving as a good networking opportunity.

“Although we had a good idea of the elements of a quality system, the workshop highlighted areas in which we could improve and gave a good overview of all aspects of Quality Management, not just document control. We found the group discussion sessions very worthwhile and it was interesting to hear other peoples' views on, amongst other things, laboratory practice and reporting procedures,” she said.

Kadri Raudsepp from Tartu University Clinics, a leading centre for hospitals in Estonia, represented the non-accredited portion of the sector and discussed the importance of accreditation for her laboratory.

“My lab started quite recently implementing a quality system. Perhaps next year we are going to apply accreditation from the Estonian Accreditation Board for our laboratory as a whole, but for HLA (human leukocyte antigen) typing we have to apply accreditation from the European Federation for Immunogenetics (EFI) because our clinic is collaborating with Nordic Stem Cell Bank and they do not accept our HLA results without EFI accreditation.”

Due in part to the successes of the recent workshop in Leuven, a second expert workshop is planned for Athens in April 2007.

"We were delighted with the enthusiasm of the participants and the way in which they took on board the quality message. We now look forward to Athens and the next workshops," said Prof. Dequeker, co-organiser of the Leuven event.

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EuroGentest homepage
Fundamental Genomics on Europa

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