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BioVU Questions and Answers

What is Vanderbilt BioVU?

Vanderbilt BioVU studies leftover blood from adults and children who are patients at Vanderbilt to learn how differences in parts of the blood, for example DNA, affect health. Learning more about this could help us to improve health care for everyone.

DNA is the information in a person’s body that is inherited from his or her parents that directs how the person grows and develops. The information is held in pieces called genes.

How does Vanderbilt get leftover blood?

For the many tests we do at Vanderbilt, we collect blood from adults and children who are patients here. Many times there is leftover blood that isn’t needed to complete the tests and that blood is normally thrown away. BioVU saves this blood and uses it for research.

How does Vanderbilt handle the leftover blood?

The first thing Vanderbilt will do is to put a code on the leftover blood and then enter it into a specially protected computer. This computer can then match the leftover blood with information about the person’s health that is contained in medical records here. Researchers will not be able to tell who the information belongs to, but they will be able to study how differences in the leftover blood affect health.

Researchers sometimes send parts of the leftover blood to another Vanderbilt-approved institution, facility, or researchers for research-related services, such as lab tests, to look at information about a particular part of the blood. This information does not have any personal information with it (this is called “de-identified”), so no one knows who the health information belongs to.

Will anyone know that this is my leftover blood?

NO. No one will ever know who the leftover blood belongs to. Vanderbilt researchers, insurance companies, employers, and law enforcement agencies will not be able to get information about a specific person’s leftover blood or health history from BioVU.

The reason to use a code is to make sure that each person’s privacy is protected.

 

How does Vanderbilt tell me about this program?

Patients treated at Vanderbilt sign the “BioVU Research” form. This form gives you a choice about participating in BioVU. There are also brochures and posters located in patient areas. If you have questions, you can call 866-436-4710.

What if I do not want my leftover blood used this way?

We would like to collect all leftover blood, but understand that some people will not want their blood used. If you feel this way, you can decide to not sign the BioVU Research form.   If you agree to participate and change your mind later, call 866-436-4710.

Your doctors will not know if you participate in BioVU. You will get the same care whether or not you participate. If you decide to not participate, our medical record system will remember this choice and your leftover blood will not be used for research.

Will someone let me know if something is found in my leftover blood?

No. Because we will not know whose leftover blood is whose, it will be impossible to give anyone results about his or her blood. On the other hand, we hope that learning more about how genes work will help make everyone’s health care better, including yours.

What other concerns do people sometimes have about Vanderbilt BioVU?

Some people worry that DNA from blood could be used for cloning. This project does not involve cloning.

Some people wonder if participating in BioVU means taking more blood. It does not require drawing any more blood.

Others wonder if there is an extra cost. You will not have to pay anything extra.

Some people are concerned about privacy. No one will ever know who the leftover blood or health information belongs to.

Some people wonder how information is shared. We may share de-identified information with approved researchers at Vanderbilt or other institutions, or with federal databases that strictly control access. To be approved to use the information, Vanderbilt researchers must apply to a committee of peer researchers. All BioVU projects must include a Vanderbilt researcher. Other approved institutions must sign a contract before Vanderbilt shares information with them. We will not release any information that could link the samples or health information to you.

Who makes sure Vanderbilt uses the leftover blood the way they are supposed to?

This project will be watched over by three groups:

1.       our research review board

2.       a separate group of scientists, ethicists, and people who work at the medical center

3.       a group from the community.

To find out more about BioVU and to contact the team directly, please visit our website at http://victr.vanderbilt.edu/pub/biovu/

 

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