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What Is Biobanking and Why Is It Important?

Biobanking refers to the process by which samples of bodily fluid or tissue are collected for research use to improve our understanding of health and disease. Other information, such as height, weight, and questions about things that may have a bearing on health (e.g. family history and lifestyle) may also be recorded at the same time, to provide the context for the samples.

Often the samples are kept indefinitely or for several years, depending on the study, so that long-term future research can be carried out. The researchers may track the health of the participants by looking at their past and future medical records, but only if people have given them permission to. You can also get to know more about biobank via

The Human Tissue Authority has useful information for people interested in donating for research and The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has also recently issued a useful report called ‘Human bodies' donation for medicine and research.


Some Biobank, recruit large groups of healthy people from across the population and then use the samples over time to see if we can work out why some people go on to develop particular illnesses or conditions while others do not.

Other biobank projects are focused on specific conditions and may involve both healthy volunteers and people with the condition in question. Samples may be collected initially for one very specific research study, and then be kept for future use in other research.

Sometimes family members of people with a particular condition are also recruited so that researchers can compare their health and medical history with those of people who have the condition.