Frequently Asked Questions about BioVU

BioVU is one of many research programs at Vanderbilt. BioVU is a program that makes samples that are left over from routine testing available for research. Researchers can learn from these samples and certain health information how differences may affect health. Learning more about how genes, molecules, and cells from the samples work could help improve health care for everyone.

 Learning more about this could help us improve health care for everyone.

Some people wonder if participating in BioVU means more samples, like blood or tissue, are taken. It does not require giving additional samples. BioVU only uses the small amount of sample that is left over after clinical testing is done. Others wonder if there is an extra cost. You are not charged for any BioVU research done on samples from you. Some people have privacy concerns. BioVU removes identifying information from your medical record before sharing. Although it is very unlikely, it is possible that a researcher could later discover your identity. However, we have taken several steps to prevent this. BioVU uses advanced information protection.

Samples that are collected during routine testing
are made of many molecules, like DNA. DNA in the
leftover samples could be used by BioVU. Genes
are made from DNA. They affect how someone’s
body will likely grow and work. Researchers study
genes and information to try to understand how to
better predict or help treat diseases. Genotyping and
sequencing are ways to look at some or all genetic
information. BioVU genetic information is only used
for de-identified medical research and does not
impact individual ongoing care.

Cells can be collected from leftover samples, like how
DNA and plasma can be collected. Cells can be used
to study how diseases and drugs work. Researchers
can use technology to make some cells behave like
cells from different tissues. For example, researchers
can study heart diseases by making blood cells
behave like heart cells. The BioVU program does
not use human embryos. Samples in BioVU are only
used to learn about human conditions and how they
happen, and to study ways to treat them.

Anyone receiving care at VUMC can participate
in BioVU.

Vanderbilt doctors can monitor your health by doing

tests on your samples, like blood, tissue, germs, DNA,

or cells. Once testing is complete, there is sometimes

a small amount of sample left over. Instead of throwing

away the residual samples, you can donate them for

BioVU research.

First, Vanderbilt will assign the leftover sample a

code. The code is then entered into a protected BioVU

computer. The code matches the leftover sample with

a person’s health information. Researchers cannot

tell who the information belongs to because BioVU

removes identifiable information from your medical

record before sharing.

No. Vanderbilt researchers, insurance companies,

employees, and law enforcement agencies are not able

to get information from BioVU about a specific person’s

leftover sample or health history.

No. BioVU researchers will not know your identity.

Therefore, it will be impossible to give you results.

However, we hope that learning more about how genes,

molecules, and cells work will help make everyone’s

health care better, including yours.

No. Participation in BioVU is voluntary. Patients will not

be compensated for donating their leftover samples.

Future research using your sample may lead to new

medicines or products, and have commercial value.

However, you will not be compensated for donating

your sample or for any future research that uses it.

Researchers sometimes send parts of the leftover

samples or health information to research partners.

BioVU may sometimes partner with Vanderbilt-

approved institutions, facilities, or companies for medical

research-related services or projects. The information

shared is de-identified. This means researchers will not

be able to link your sample or health information back to

you personally.

This program is watched over by several groups,


• Our research ethics experts and review committee

• A separate group of scientists, doctors, ethicists and

people who work at VUMC

• A group from the community with diverse


    The key details about the program are in the BioVU

    Research Form. This form gives you a choice about

    whether you’d like to participate in BioVU. More

    information is also available on the BioVU website,

    posters, and brochures. If you have questions, you can

    call 866-436-4710.

    We understand that some people will not want to

    participate. If you don’t want to participate, you can

    indicate your choice on the BioVU Research Form. If

    you agree to participate now and later change your

    mind, call 866-436-4710 and we will record your

    decision. If you choose to not participate, our medical

    record system will remember this choice and your

    leftover samples and its resultant information will not be

    used for new BioVU-related research. Your doctors do

    not know if you participate in BioVU. You will get

    the same care whether or not you participate.