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BC Children's new BioBank

Posted by on 4 November 2014 | 0 Comments


The BC Children's Hospital BioBank is now open and serving both BC Children’s and BC Women’s.

Biobanking is a new and indispensable research tool that holds the potential to improve treatments and find cures for diseases affecting children and families in BC. Through its systematic and ethical collection, processing and storage of biospecimens, the BioBank will facilitate breakthrough medical discoveries that will improve the lives of children suffering from debilitating and life-limiting diseases.

Development of the BC Children's Hospital BioBank was made possible in part by a $2.66-million contribution from Mining for Miracles, a longstanding fundraising campaign for BC Children’s Hospital by BC’s mining community.

Yesterday, with the support of Child & Family Research Institute, we celebrated this accomplishment with an official unveiling of the processing laboratory and the BC Children’s Hospital BioBank, honouring to the Mining for Miracles Committee, top donors, and Pie Throw fundraising event participants.

How Biobanks fuel medical research

Advances in medical research have drastically improved quality of life for millions of people and lead to effective treatments for conditions that were once life-threatening. 

In order to continue improving treatments and therapies, researchers need access to health information and biological samples, such as blood, from a wide variety of people. A biobank is a collection of de-identified information and samples that scientists can access for their research.

A single biospecimen from one patient has the ability to fuel numerous research projects, any one of which might lead to an important medical breakthrough.

Collecting samples

The BioBank relies on donations of samples from children, youth, women and family members who are being treated BC Children's Hospital or at BC Women’s Hospital. If a family would like to donate to the BioBank, samples will be obtained as part of a routine procedure that’s already scheduled – families will not be asked to make appointments for additional procedures in order to donate to the BioBank. In some cases, the BioBank accepts samples that would normally be disposed of after a routine procedure, so a participant would not be asked to give any additional samples.

If a family decides at any time that they want to remove their samples from the BioBank, they are free to do so without any explanation.

Storing and using samples

Dr. Suzanne Vercauteren removes biospecimens from a CCBR BioBank freezer

After a patient donates to the BioBank, their samples are de-identified and processed in a laboratory where they are frozen and stored. BioBank staff will enter information about the samples and limited, anonymous information about the participant into a secure database. Patient confidentiality is protected by the BioBank, and personal information will never be released to anyone outside of the BioBank.

Scientists submit applications to use BioBank samples in their research. The application process includes an ethical review of proposed research.

Pictured (right): Dr. Suzanne Vercauteren removes samples from a Childhood Cancer & Blood Research BioBank freezer.

For more information on the BioBank, please visit

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