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A biobank is a collection of biological samples, such as blood and/or tissue, as well as the corresponding health information. Biobanks serve as a library for researchers. Instead of looking for volunteers for each new project, researchers can use samples and information from the biobank that has already been collected. Information and samples gathered in biobanks can be shared with researchers in other countries. Sharing information in this way means research can be conducted on larger numbers of people, allowing us to see the bigger picture. This could lead to a better understanding of cardiovascular health and the development of new treatments.

You can choose to participate in the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Cardiovascular Biobank if you would like to help researchers advance cardiovascular research. Your decision to participate may impact treatment options and improve the outcomes for the future generations of cardiovascular patients.
Participation is entirely voluntary and your decision to participate will have no impact on your medical care. Furthermore, you can choose to withdraw from the Biobank at any time, by contacting us either via email at pmccbiobank@uhn.ca or phone at 416 340 4800 ext. 5568.

When you join the biobank, a blood sample will be drawn at the same time that you have bloodwork scheduled for your medical care. By joining the Biobank, you are consenting to allow Biobank staff to review your past, present and future medical records. Lastly, if you are having surgery at the University Health Network, we will keep a small sample of tissue that would normally be disposed of after a procedure.

Maintaining respect and privacy of our participants is a key mandate of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Cardiovascular Biobank. Each participant is assigned a number, and researchers, who receive samples from our Biobank, will not be given any information that would identify a participant. All electronic information is kept secure through measures such as encryption, passwords and restricted user access. Any paper documentation and samples are secured through restricted physical access and security monitoring.

The goal of the Biobank is to provide samples to researchers for diverse types of studies. Many of the studies will be focused on gaining a better understanding of how a person’s genes (DNA) may influence cardiovascular disease progression, or how differences in DNA influence patients’ responses to certain medications. Other studies may look to determine novel biomarkers that can be found in patients’ blood. They might permit the more timely diagnosis of adverse cardiac events.

You should not expect to get individual results from research done using your samples. The researchers using your samples may discover information about inherited changes in your DNA that may put you at a higher risk than other people for heart related and/or other diseases. Because DNA is inherited, the changes detected may also be relevant to your biological relatives (e.g. your parents, children, sisters, brothers etc.). This information may not be important for your current care but it may be important later or for the health of other family members. You and your family will only be informed of changes that have a known high risk of causing disease. Please note that we will only inform you of genes where there is a very high chance (more than 50%) of developing a disease and they are confirmed in a clinical lab. When you join the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Cardiovascular Biobank, you will be asked to choose whether or not you want to receive this kind of information if it is found.

Samples kept within the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Cardiovascular Biobank will enable different types of research studies. Through individual studies, researchers may discover something about your health currently, or potential future health risks. These types of discoveries are not expected, nor guaranteed, for each patient sample. As a result, not every participant in the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Cardiovascular Biobank will receive results.
Medical research and knowledge is constantly evolving. As such, some results may be returned. A process has been set up for this purpose.

  1. A panel of experts will review each research study and decide which results should be communicated to participants.
  2. Participants whose results are returned to them should expect a letter in the mail that will briefly describe the research study. Once the letter is received, the participant can choose to either 1) take no action, or 2) contact the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Cardiovascular Biobank to find out more about the research study. Participants wishing to learn more will be scheduled to talk to a genetic counselor over the phone. During the first conversation, results will not be disclosed. Should the participant choose to continue, he or she can schedule a second phone call to receive their personal results.
  3. The receipt of a letter does not mean that you have tested positive for a condition.
  4. This procedure may change as scientific knowledge continues to grow and evolve.

Researchers from within the University Health Network and other research institutions globally are the primary users of the samples and data from the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Cardiovascular Biobank.

Once collected, your blood samples will be processed in our Biobank Laboratory. All blood samples are frozen in large liquid nitrogen tanks at -196 degrees Celsius until requested by a researcher. Tissue samples, which are collected by the pathology lab staff, are placed in small barcoded vials and also stored in liquid nitrogen.

The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Cardiovascular Biobank samples are secured in liquid nitrogen tanks, and access to them is limited. The building is under constant video surveillance. Personal medical information is stored in computers that are protected by electronic security measures.

Any patient being seen at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre is eligible to donate samples to the Biobank.

If you pass away, your sample will remain in​ the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Cardiovascular Biobank, which means the Biobank can continue to use it in the ways described in the consent form.

If you wish to withdraw your consent and/or samples, you can notify the Biobank by contacting us through email at pmccbiobank@uhn.ca or phone at 416 340 4800 ext. 5568. Once your consent is withdrawn, all biospecimens that have NOT been released to the researcher will be destroyed and your demographic/health information will be deleted from our database.

All biospecimens are identified only with a unique barcoded number that is assigned to each sample. To further ensure confidentiality, each participant is also assigned a unique participant number which is used on sample documentation. This means that while relevant pathological details of the sample and de-identified participant information might be shared with researchers (e.g., gender, age, diagnosis, time of sample retrieval), the only identifier that is provided to researchers would be the unique sample number, which cannot be traced back to the donor.