FLAD will support the creation of COVID-19 Biobank by the João Lobo Antunes Institute of Molecular Medicine (iMM).

This Biobank, which aims to be one of the largest in the country, will collect biological samples from infected patients. The goal is to increase knowledge about the virus to develop therapeutic responses and find out why the virus behaves differently in diverse population groups.

Elsa Henriques, administrator of FLAD, explains that “at this moment, supporting Science in Portugal is also supporting projects that can bring us light to this pandemic. And studying the behavior of this virus, still so unknown, is essential for us to be able to react and prevent future situations.”

In turn, Maria Manuel Mota, executive director of iMM, highlights the possibilities of creating this structure within the capabilities of the infrastructure that iMM already has at its disposal.

“Being able to count on FLAD’s support for this project is very important and will enable the storage of samples in this new collection of COVID-19, using the infrastructures already created within the campus of the Academic Center of Lisbon, formed by iMM, the Santa Maria Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine from Lisbon University. These samples can be used by national and foreign researchers in projects that seek to better understand the different aspects of this pandemic,” she says.

Sérgio Dias, principal investigator of iMM and one of the directors of Biobank, will be in charge of the project that will result from FLAD’s partnership with iMM.

The researcher says that “the creation of this COVID-19 sample Biobank will be extremely important for the development of research projects that will increase knowledge about the virus and how we can anticipate future effects of this pandemic.”

What is the COVID-19 Biobank?

With this partnership, iMM will create one of the largest national repositories of biological samples of patients with COVID-19, thanks to its privileged position in the Academic Center of Lisbon Medicine, based on the campus of the Santa Maria Hospital.

Thus, many of the physician-researchers of iMM are at the forefront of the response at the Hospital Center Lisbon North to COVID-19, thus being able to identify individuals from which samples must be taken and the timing of their collection for longitudinal studies, ensuring all logistics in terms of informed consent and the collection of relevant clinical data.

On the other hand, in the next step, which is also essential, iMM has highly qualified and available researchers for optimal processing of samples in safe conditions.

What is the purpose of COVID-19 Biobank?

The work that will be done will allow the scientific community to have material that will help answer multiple issues relevant to the current pandemic, and others that will arise to prevent future outbreaks of infection.

Access to samples of patients or asymptomatics exposed to COVID-19, among other groups, will allow, many other possible questions, to comprehend the infection mechanisms of the virus, as well as the immunological response of different population groups to this pandemic, with the goal to develop tests to understand which elements of the population were exposed to the virus.

What answers can be found using these samples?

We may know, for example, whether, within a given age group, there is a genetic basis that can explain the differences between those who recover and those who have an adverse clinical course, and identify the essential immunological responses to deal with this infection.

On the other hand, these samples may allow the virus to sequence in parallel with the study of the immunological response and define the relationship established between SARS-CoV-2 and the human host. All this knowledge can contribute decisively to the development of new therapeutic strategies for COVID-19.


The partnership with the Institute of Molecular Medicine is another step in FLAD’s intervention, after the donation of 350,000 euros to the Food Bank Against Hunger to support the most vulnerable in this time of crisis.

As a Portuguese Foundation and within the framework of its social responsibility, FLAD will continue to follow up on other support under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you and see you soon!