What types of samples will be collected?


We will collect blood and urine samples.


What will these samples be used for?

The purpose of this pilot blood and urine collection is to evaluate different collection methods to determine the best approach to conducting collections of blood and urine samples from larger numbers of Nurses’ Health Study 3(NHS3) participants in the future. In the future, blood samples in this bank will be used for research on how biochemical markers such as hormones and nutrient levels are associated with various diseases important in women’s health and how differences in genes influence disease risk. Urine samples will enable us to measure hormones and other factors not measurable in blood.


What type of future research will my samples be used for?


Ultimately, they will be used to study genetics and changes in biochemical markers in breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, myocardial infarction, and other diseases important for women’s health. The long-term goals of the research are to better understand, prevent, diagnose or treat these illnesses. It is not possible to list every potential research project. Also, we cannot predict all of the research questions that will be important in the future. As we learn more, new types of research and new research questions may be addressed.


We may also perform a whole genome or sequencing analysis on your DNA sample. Usually researchers study just a few areas of the genetic code that are linked to a disease or condition. In whole genome studies, all or most of your genes are analyzed and used by researchers to study links to various diseases or conditions. These data will be carefully protected and no identifying information will be linked with genetic data.


Where will these samples be collected and who will draw my blood?


We will ship all of the necessary materials and instructions for the sample collection to your home. We ask that you have a colleague or another medical professional draw the blood for you. If you choose to get your blood drawn at a facility or clinic, we will reimburse you the cost of the blood draw as long as you provide us with a receipt. We will not reimburse any other services or tests you have done at the blood draw appointment. The urine sample can be collected by yourself in your home.


How much blood will you need from me?


This will depend on the specific collection group you are randomly selected into. However, none of the collection groups will ask for any more than a total of 60ml (4 tablespoons) of your blood.


How will I know when to collect the samples?


We will include detailed instructions, as well as a calendar to calculate the days on which you should collect your samples. You can also see these materials at http://www.nhs3.org/collections, or contact us directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Will it cost me any money to collect or ship these samples to you?


We will send you all of the necessary materials and instructions for the sample collection.We will also provide you with all of the materials you will need to ship the samples back to us. Additionally, all shipping costs will be charged to our account, so there will be no cost to you.


Do we receive any incentives for providing these samples?


While we cannot offer financial incentives for this pilot study, we will offer you a free copy of Healthy Women, Healthy Lives: A Guide to Preventing Disease, from the Landmark Nurses’ Health Study to thank you for participating in this pilot study and to share with you what we have learned about women’s health through the success of these cohorts.


How will my samples be stored?

Our staff at the NHS3 specimen bank will assign your sample a code number and store it in a freezer. We will not keep your name or other information that could identify you with your sample. We will use the code number to connect your sample to your health information that is stored in a computer database. The computer database is protected with a password. Only selected staff at our research facility will know the password.


Where will my samples be stored?


Your blood and urine samples will be processed and stored at a biorepository facility operated by and located at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School, in Boston, Massachusetts. Partners HealthCare System is the parent organization of BWH and Massachusetts General Hospital and the Partners Ethic Board oversees the conduct of human research studies for BWH and has approved this research.


Who will have access to my samples?


Your samples and other associated data you have provided as part of your participation in the NHS3 will be made available to researchers at HSPH and BWH and our academic collaborators. Very occasionally, your samples may be shared with for profit companies that are working with HSPH or BWH researchers on a specific research project. Your samples will not be sold to anyone either for profit or not for profit.


How long will my samples be kept?

There is no scheduled date on which your samples and information in the bank will be destroyed. Your samples may be stored for research until they are “used up.” The code linking your samples to your medical record may be kept indefinitely so that your samples and updated health information may be used for research in the future.


Will I get results of research done using my samples?

No. The research we are doing is only a stepping stone in understanding disease. Therefore, information from this research will not be returned to you or your doctor. In addition, we use research, not clinical, assays in our research. Tests done for research using your samples will not be useful in directing your medical treatment.


How will my privacy be protected?

We are using an alias or fake ID number on all supplies for this project. Once the NHS3 specimen bank receives the samples, we will link them to your original ID for conducting scientific research. When providing samples to researchers, the specimen bank will provide limited information such that you cannot be identified (for example, your age in five year categories and year of diagnosis). All of the stored samples will be labeled with a code number that connects the sample to medical information related to the sample. The key to the code that links the samples and information to a specific individual will only be available to a small number of research staff, and will be securely stored. In addition, all studies using the specimen bank must be approved by the hospital ethics board as well as by the specimen bank advisory board. The ethics board is a group that independently reviews and watches over all research studies involving people. The board follows state and federal laws and codes of ethics to make sure that the rights and welfare of people taking part in research studies are protected. Researchers outside of HSPH and BWH will not be given the key to the code that links your samples and medical information to your name or other identifiers.  


Will you be selling my samples?


Your samples will not be sold to anyone either for profit or not for profit.


Can I stop allowing my samples and information to be stored and used for research?

Yes. You have a right to withdraw your permission at any time. If you do, your samples will be destroyed. However, it will not be possible to destroy samples and information that have already been given to researchers.


Who can I contact with questions?


You can e-mail us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or speak with our study staff at 617-432-7078  Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm Eastern Time. We make every effort to answer every call, but if we are unreachable, please leave a voicemail and we will return your call as soon as possible.