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Last Updated: 12/22/14

How can patients help?

Biospecimens are available for medical research only when patients donate tissue while they are undergoing surgery, biopsy, or other medical procedures. Patients, their families and the public can help support research using biospecimens in the following ways:

  • Stay Informed

    There is an increasing amount of interest and activity in how biospecimens can help medical researchers. This website, and other professional and policy organizations (, provide information about trends, issues and events that affect biorepository operations. You can ask your surgeon and local hospital for information about biorepositories operating in your region. You can view this NCI video to hear from patients and researchers about what it means to donate tissue to medical research

  • Consider donating a biospecimen

    As a patient scheduled for a biopsy or surgery, you may be asked before the procedure if you would consider donating a biospecimen for research. You will receive a brochure describing how the process works, as well as a consent form to review.

  • Donating your biospecimens is entirely voluntary. Whether or not you decide to donate, there will be no impact on the surgical procedure itself. Your specimens cannot be taken until you give written consent (permission), and you will be able to withdraw that permission at any time thereafter.

    A patient education booklet on providing tissue for research in clinical trials is available here: How You Can Help Medical Research: Donating Your Blood, Tissue, and Other Samples.

  • Spread the word

    If you know other people who are going to be in a medical position to provide biospecimens, consider telling them what you've learned about the need for donors and steering them to this web site.

  • Share your thoughts

    This website provides updates and resources about biorepositories and the use of biospecimens for research. Please contact with any comments or questions.