Biobanking & Tissue Donation

Sharing a part of you to help find a cure

Volunteers play a critical role in helping our team research how to better treat, prevent, and potentially cure cancer. Tissue, blood, and other biospecimens, as well as medical records, are the foundation of nearly every cancer cure and treatment we use today.

Many of our recent exciting discoveries are in the growing fields of precision medicine and immunotherapy. We’re using patient biospecimens to find new ways to prevent and control treatment-resistant diseases like multiple myeloma, pediatric sarcomas, and triple-negative breast cancer.

And did you know that you can also donate “normal” tissue? We’re home to the world’s largest biorepository of normal breast cells—the Komen Tissue Bank.

How biobanking works

Cancer patients donate tumor tissue or blood samples to our biobank.

Our biobank analyzes the samples and lets researchers know they’re available.

Our researchers test their ideas on donated samples.

Researchers publish their findings and create clinical trials for new treatments.

Biobanking Q&A

A biorepository is a storage bank of medical information and biospecimens. Biospecimens are samples from your body such as urine, blood, skin or tissue, which are used for research purposes.

  • Tissue: This vital resource is collected after medical testing - instead of being destroyed as medical waste.
  • Blood: Just a few tablespoons of your blood contains DNA, RNA, proteins. and other information.
  • Medical records: Knowing scientific data about your age, race, and medical history helps researchers understand how cancer starts and how it grows.

There may be varying degrees of pain or discomfort depending on your condition and the type of samples you donate. A common example is the mild discomfort of having your blood drawn.

If you elect to share your medical records, be assured that we follow strict confidentiality protocols and store your data very securely.

Generally, donors will not see results from any research performed on donated tissue, blood or other biospecimens. This isn’t because we don’t want you to know - it’s because cancer research takes a long time and requires samples from many people before results are known.

At IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, the scientists in our Biospecimen Collection & Banking Core work closely with our Clinical Trials Office and the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN).

Taking part in a research study is entirely voluntary. You can choose not to take part or leave a study at any time.

Deciding not to participate, or deciding to leave the study later, will not result in any penalty or loss of benefits to which you are entitled, and will not affect your relationship with your physician.

Ready to learn more?

If you’re interested in donating tissue or other samples, talk to your physician and complete and submit the consent form—a coordinator will follow up.

If you have questions, contact Jill Henry at or 317-278-2829.


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