Office of Research & Development

VA Tissue Banking Guidance

  1. Human Biological Specimens Used for VA Research - This guidance document describes human biological specimens in regards to their use in VA research.
  2. ORD Guidance on Information to Include in a Biorepository Protocol - This guidance document focuses on components of a protocol for VA research biorepositories that are established for future use.
  3. ORD Guidance on Stewardship of VA Research Biorepositories - This guidance document refers to the responsible management and care-taking responsibility of biorepositories or biobanks.
  4. ORD guidance on registration of VA research biorepositories-DRAFT for public comment - This guidance document applies to research biorepositories or biobanks maintained in VA space, or otherwise financially supported by VA, for the intended purpose for future research use. See also Instructions for Registering a VA Research Biorepository on the Smithsonian's GRSciColl Website
  5. ORD Guidance on What to Include in an Informed Consent Document When Banking VA Biospecimens for Research

Collecting and Storing Specimens for Secondary or Future Research

Guidance for collecting and storing human biological specimens for future research purposes that are beyond the scope of work described in the original protocol and informed consent or those collected under a protocol designed for banking of specimens are as follows:

  • A waiver is not needed if human biological specimens are banked at a VA site.
  • A waiver should be obtained from the Office of Research and Development (ORD)


    the specimens are banked if human biological specimens are stored for secondary or future research uses at a non-profit or academic institution. Click on the non-profit link below for the application and more information.
  • Human biological specimens

    should not

    be stored for future or secondary research uses at, or on behalf of, a for-profit institution. Please refer to the section below for other options.

Collecting and Storing Specimens for a Single Research Protocol

Guidance for collecting and storing human biological specimens that are collected under a VA-approved protocol only for use for the specific purposes defined in the protocol and that are destroyed either when the specific testing/use is completed or at the end of the protocol are as follows:

  • If the protocol is 5 years or longer and the specimens are stored off-site at a non-profit institution until the end of the protocol, then the investigator should obtain a waiver from ORD.
  • If the specimens are stored off-site at a for-profit institution for greater than 3 months, a waiver should be obtained from ORD. With a waiver the specimens may be stored for up to 1 year after the study completion date, to perform batch analyses or to repeat analyses that are described in the protocol and informed consent. Click on the for-profit link below for the application and more information.

VA-Approved Tissue Banks

In the past, if a tissue bank was designated VA-approved, human biological specimens could be stored there for any protocol. Currently, an off-site tissue bank waiver should be approved for each protocol. We maintain a list of academic and non-profit tissue banks that have been approved for multi-site protocols. If you are planning to participate in a multi-site study, click here to view the list.


As a result of a letter of understanding with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), many NCI-sponsored cooperative tissue banks are designated as VA-approved if they are used for one of their protocols (for example, the SWOG-supported tissue bank can be used for SWOG protocols without a waiver from ORD). Click here to view the list.

Tissue Banking Program Contact Information

Program Support

Kristina Hill, MPH, MT(ASCP)
Department of Veterans Affairs
Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development (10P9B)
810 Vermont Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20420
Office: 202-443-5675

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