Biobank offers way for patients to help others

contributing columnistMarch 2, 2014 

In addition to providing health care, the University of Kentucky is also committed to finding new treatments, tests and cures for diseases. Now, patients at UK can contribute to that effort by participating in the Research Registry and Specimen Bank, or the biobank.

When you have a medical procedure that involves for example, drawing blood or sampling tissue, there is often material remaining from the testing process that would otherwise be thrown away. By agreeing to participate in the biobank, you allow any remaining tissue or blood from your normal medical procedures to be donated and stored in the biobank for medical research. Participation is voluntary, and no additional procedures will be performed or extra blood or tissue taken from you. Your medical care will not be affected in any way. To protect your privacy, your name and all identifying information will be removed from any tissue donated to the biobank.

In biomedical research, access to human tissues is of central importance in studying a disease or condition and developing drugs and cures. By choosing to participate in the Research Registry and Specimen Bank, your samples (such as urine, skin, blood, tissues, hair, and saliva) can help researchers come up with new treatments and cures for health problems like cancer, diabetes or heart disease. Markey Cancer Center, or example, will greatly benefit from the biobank as its researchers work to find better treatments and cures for Kentuckians with cancer. Even if participation will not have any direct benefit to you, it may help in the advancement of new treatments for your children, your neighbors, or your friends.

When you check in for treatment at UK, you will receive information regarding participation and have an opportunity to ask questions. If you decide that you want to participate, you will be asked to sign a consent form. Currently, consenting for biobanking is conducted in the surgical department and at the Multi-Disciplinary Outpatient Clinic at Markey Cancer Center. The option to donate will be offered to patients in other clinics in the near future.

For questions or further information, please visit or call the Research Participant Registry Office by phone at (859) 323-3775.

Dr. Philip A. Kern is the director of the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science and the Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes and Obesity Center. He is a professor of endocrinology.

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