Veterinary Medical Center, Box 20
Ithaca, NY 14853-6401
Veterinary researchers use samples of blood, hair, skin, and other biological matter to find new and better treatments for diseases that affect animals.
You can assist them by donating biological samples from your animal to the Cornell Veterinary Biobank.
A biobank stores biological samples until they are needed for research. There are thousands of biobanks in the United States.
Before you make a decision about contributing samples, it is important to understand what donation is, how it works, and the role of your consent.
What are samples?
Samples (also called biospecimens) consist of materials such as blood, skin, hair, saliva, and urine. Some of the samples in our biobank were obtained by the animal’s veterinarian during an appointment.
What kinds of animals do you collect samples from?
We collect samples from every kind of animal. Note that we use the word “animal” broadly to include birds and other non-mammals, as well as mammals such as dogs, cats, and horses.
Why should I donate samples from my animal?
Researchers use your animal’s samples, along with samples from thousands of other animals, to look for ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Some owners find that donating samples helps them cope with an upsetting diagnosis and the challenge of caring for a loved one who is sick. Many people feel good about helping researchers make advances in veterinary medicine that improve disease treatments and outcomes.
How do you collect samples?
There are two ways to collect samples:
1. During a medical procedure. For example, when your veterinarian draws blood for medical testing, the amount of blood drawn is often larger than what is needed for the test. Ordinarily the unused portion is destroyed. With your consent, the unused portion is biobanked for use in research.
2. Through a standalone procedure. For example, you could make an appointment to bring in a pet for no other reason than to collect samples for research purposes.
How can I make a donation?
We collect samples at the Cornell veterinary hospitals in Ithaca, NY and Stamford, CT. Ask your veterinarian about the kinds of samples your animal may be able to contribute.
What happens after I contribute my animal’s sample?
If a sample is collected as part of a medical procedure, your veterinarian will first complete all diagnostic tests. Then, with your consent, any unused material may be sent to the biobank along with information about your animal’s general health. Likewise, a sample collected for the sole purpose of making a donation will be sent to us along with your animal’s information.
May I choose how my animal’s samples and information are used?
Just as blood donors can't specify who may receive their blood, you won’t be able to choose how your animal’s samples and information will be used, nor will you be contacted when they are sent to researchers.
Who decides how my companion’s samples will be used?
A committee of experts and patient advocates reviews each request for samples to make sure the proposed research is ethical, useful, and based on good science. This committee must approve the project before the biobank will give researchers samples and health information.
How long will my companion’s samples and information be used?
There is no limit on how long samples and information can be stored and used. Samples can be kept and used in research unless the owner asks to have them destroyed or the biobank closes. If the biobank closes, your companion’s samples may be destroyed or sent to another biobank.
Can I change my mind?
Samples and information that have already been given to researchers are rarely returned. Research results from your animal’s samples or information cannot be changed or stopped. You may have the right to withdraw your companion’s samples and information that have not yet been used in any research. If you decide to withdraw consent, please contact us to discuss your options.
Will I receive the results of research done with my animal’s samples?
No, but you will receive the results from any medical procedures, such as a biopsy or blood test, that were performed on your animal during collection.
Why won’t I receive the results of research done on my animal’s samples?
Your name, address, and other identifying information are removed from the records when samples are sent to researchers. Researchers may publish articles about their findings but they will not identify whose samples they used.
Why do you need information from my animal’s health records?
A researcher may require certain information about your animal in order to learn more about the specific disease he or she is studying. Information that researchers need may include:
• Gender and spay/neuter status
• Medical history
• Pedigree/family history
How do I know that my animal’s information will be kept confidential?
Protecting privacy is one of our top priorities. Biobanks are not allowed to release personal information without your consent. Your address, phone number, and anything else that could identify you and/or your animal will be removed before the records are sent to the researcher.
Are there any risks?
There are very few risks to donating samples for research. The greatest risk is the unauthorized release of health records. However, protection of privacy is one of our top concerns, and there are security measures designed to prevent this from happening. The chances that the information will be released are very small.
Your veterinarian or veterinary technician will help you address any physical side effects that your animal may experience from the collection procedure, such as bruising or soreness at the place where the samples are taken from.
For more information:
• Talk to your veterinarian
• Contact the Cornell Veterinary Biobank at firstname.lastname@example.org