Categories of Human Biological Materials

Author(s): Thomas H. Murray, Ph.D.

Repository Collections

Unidentified Specimens:
For these specimens, identifiable personal information was not collected or, if collected, was not maintained and cannot be retrieved by the repository.
Identified Specimens:
These specimens are linked to personal information in such a way that the person from whom the material was obtained could be identified by name, patient number, or clear pedigree location (i.e., his or her relationship to a family member whose identity is known).

Research Samples

Unidentified Samples:
Sometimes termed "anonymous," these samples are supplied by repositories to investigators from a collection of unidentified human biological specimens.
Unlinked Samples:
Sometimes termed "anonymized," these samples lack identifiers or codes that can link a particular sample to an identified specimen or a particular human being.
Coded Samples:
Sometimes termed "linked" or "identifiable," these samples are supplied by repositories to investigators from identified specimens with a code rather than with personally identifying information such as a name or Social Security number.
Identified Samples:
These samples are supplied by repositories from identified specimens with a personal identifier (such as a name of patient number) that would allow the researcher to link the biological information derived from the research directly to the individual from whom the material was obtained.
Cite this page: "Categories of Human Biological Materials" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 8/18/2006 National Academy of Engineering Accessed: Wednesday, October 01, 2014 <www.onlineethics.org/Resources/TeachingTools/Modules/19237/biomat/catbio.aspx>