What is a biobank?


A biobank stores human biological samples. People have donated these so they can be used for health and medical research.

Reproduced with permission of Oxford Biobank

Reproduced with permission of Oxford Biobank

Biological material kept in a biobank could include:

  • Blood

  • Saliva

  • Urine

  • Small samples of different bits of your body

A biobank will also hold information about the people who provided these samples. For example, there might be details about their:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Date and place of birth
  • Medical history
  • Lifestyle (eg whether or not they smoke, how much exercise they do)

Being able to link biological samples with information about the person they came from is crucial for researchers. Combining samples and information means researchers can look for patterns between the way people live their lives or their genetic make-up with their likelihood of getting a particular disease, or how a disease or treatment may affect them.