What is a Biorepository, what is a Tissue Bank?

A Biorepository or Tissue Bank is a collection of tissue and other samples, such as blood, which have been collected from patients with their permission and stored safely so that they are available for use in medical research by doctors and scientists.

samples being taken out of a freezer

How Tayside Biorepository operates

Often doctors need to remove tissue as part of your treatment, for example during a surgical operation. Alternatively they might take a small sample to help them find out what might be wrong with you (tissue collected for this reason is called a 'biopsy'). The samples that the Tayside Biorepository (TBR) collects is material that is removed during a patient's routine surgery and which is surplus after all the necessary diagnostic tests have been concluded. The size of the retained tissue is usually very small (less than the size of a pea) and is material that would normally be discarded. Often blood samples may also be collected, if convenient and when appropriate.

Patients about to undergo procedures in which surplus tissue may become available are approached by Research Nurses. The process of explaining the purpose of the Tayside Biorepository and seeking the patients permission to retain some tissue is termed obtaining authorisation or 'consent'.

A printable consent form (PDF) can be downloaded as can a copy of the Patient Information Sheet regarding tissue donation. In addition, for patients only being asked to donate a blood sample a Patient Information Sheet for blood samples is available.

Donating tissue and blood to the TBR is performed on an entirely voluntary basis and we are very grateful to all patients who give their permission for us to keep a small amount of their tissue. Giving your consent for us to retain any surplus tissue, or withholding your consent, will not affect your care or treatment in any way and details of the donating patient are kept strictly confidential. All biological samples taken are labelled with an individual Tayside Biorepository identification number, unrelated to any other patient identifier (e.g. name, address, NHS number etc) so any researchers who may later receive the sample will not know the identity of the donor.