COVID-19 on Ice

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UHN’s COVID-19 Biobank provides access to COVID-19 specimens for life-saving research.

Sometimes victory requires keeping your enemies close by. UHN Biospecimen Services and leading researchers have established the UHN COVID-19 Biobank to do just that.

UHN’s COVID-19 Biobank was born from the launch of the clinical trial known as the Pandemic Response Biobank for Coronavirus Samples, or PRESERVE, lead by Dr. Shahid Husain. UHN Biospecimen Services securely processes, stores, and manages biological specimens and accompanying clinical data, and represents a key resource for basic and clinical research at UHN.

Since the trial launched on May 5, 2020, over 292 participants have donated over 10,000 specimens to the COVID-19 Biobank. These specimens will be housed indefinitely for future research studies and quality improvement and include blood, blood components, urine, saliva and nasal swabs.

Dr. Husain says, “The UHN COVID-19 Biobank will help us to understand key aspects of COVID-19, including, how to detect, prevent, manage and treat disease.”

Many COVID-19 research projects are underway at UHN. These projects are focused on a variety of topics, such as the development of new COVID-19 tests and diagnostics, therapeutic interventions and ways to curb the spread of the disease.

“Our facility allows for short and long-term storage in liquid nitrogen using best practices. These stringent standards will ensure that samples remain useful for years to come,” adds Dr. Neil Fleshner, Medical Director of the UHN Biospecimen Services.

Heidi Wagner, the Head of Operations of UHN Biospecimen Services, comments, “The UHN COVID-19 Biobank represents a key resource. One that will enable researchers and clinicians to better understand the virus, the immune response to the virus and to develop effective and life-saving countermeasures.”

If you have questions about the UHN COVID-19 Biobank or would like to collaborate, please contact Heidi Wagner at

(L-R) Dr. Shahid Husain, Affiliate Scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, and Dr. Neil Fleshner, Clinician Investigator at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Heidi Wagner, Head of Operations of UHN Biospecimen Services.