World-wide availability of biobank samples is a great desideratum for biomedical researchers. We describe the use case of biobank information retrieval that requires the semantic descriptions of biobank samples and of clinical information. In addition we sketch the foundations of an ontology for biobanks, as a basis on which distributed biobank indexing and retrieval systems can be built. We advocate that a detailed and robust representation of this kind of information improves and allows complex queries that will certainly arise to explore the full potential of biobanks.
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