What are samples?

Samples (also called biospecimens) consist of materials such as blood, tissue, hair, saliva, and urine.

What kinds of animals do you collect samples from?

We collect samples from every kind of animal, such as dogs, cats and horses, as well as birds and other non-mammals.

Why should I donate samples from my animal?

Many donors tell us that they like the idea of helping researchers make advances in medicine that improve disease treatments and outcomes for animals. Some owners find that donating samples helps them cope with an animal’s death, an upsetting diagnosis, or the challenge of caring for an animal that is sick.

How do you collect samples?

There are two ways to collect samples:

  1. During a medical procedure or routine exam.
  2. During an appointment made specifically to collect samples for research purposes.

How can I make a donation?

We collect samples at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals in Ithaca, NY and Cornell Veterinary Specialists in Stamford, CT. Ask your veterinarian about the kinds of samples your animal may be able to contribute.

What happens after I contribute my animal’s sample?

If a sample is collected as part of a medical procedure, your veterinarian will first complete all diagnostic tests. Then, with your consent, any unused material may be sent to the Biobank along with information about your animal’s general health. Likewise, a sample collected for the sole purpose of making a donation will be sent to us along with your animal’s information.

May I choose how my animal’s samples and information are used?

Just as blood donors can’t specify who may receive their blood, you won’t be able to choose how your animal’s samples and information will be used, nor will you be contacted when they are sent to researchers.

Who decides how my animal’s samples will be used?

A committee of experts reviews each request for samples to make sure the proposed research is ethical, useful, and based on good science. This committee must approve the project so that the Biobank can give researchers the requested samples and health information.

For how long will my animal’s samples and information be used?

There is no limit on how long samples and information can be stored and used. Samples can be kept and used in research indefinitely unless the owner asks to have them destroyed.

Can I change my mind?

Samples and information that have already been given to researchers cannot be returned. The results of research from your animal’s samples or information cannot be changed or stopped. You have the right to withdraw your consent for the use of samples and information that have not yet been used in any research. If you decide to withdraw consent, please contact us.

Will I receive the results of research done with my animal’s samples?

No, but you will receive the results from any medical procedures, such as a biopsy or blood test, that were performed on your animal for diagnostic purposes.

Why won’t I receive the results of research done on my animal’s samples?

Your name, address, and other identifying information are removed from the records when samples are sent to researchers. Researchers may publish articles about their findings but they will not identify whose samples they used.

Why do you need information from my animal’s health records?

A researcher may require certain information about your animal in order to learn more about the specific disease he or she is studying. Information that researchers need may include:

  • Species
  • Breed
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Weight
  • Medical history
  • Pedigree/family history

How do I know that my animal’s information will be kept confidential?

Protecting privacy is one of our top priorities. Biobanks are not allowed to release personal information without your consent. Your address, phone number, and anything else that could identify you and/or your animal will be removed before the records are sent to the researcher.

Are there any side effects to contributing a sample?

Your veterinarian or veterinary technician will help you address any physical side effects that your animal may experience from the collection procedure.

Do you offer genetic tests?

The Cornell Veterinary Biobank does not offer any genetic tests, however we have a partnership with Embark which offers a genetic test for dogs.