The Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) is collecting small amounts of blood and urine from consenting participants and storing the biospecimens at the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg for use in future health studies. The survey also extracts and stores DNA samples from participants 14 years and older, again only with their consent.
The blood, urine and DNA samples are frozen and stored anonymously. The test tubes containing each blood and urine sample are labelled with a barcode. No other information is associated with participant biospecimens. Under the authority of the Statistics Act, biospecimens and data are always kept secure and confidential.
Most participants of the first two cycles of the CHMS (2007 to 2009 and 2009 to 2011) consented to have their blood and urine stored in the survey's biobank for use in future health studies. Survey participants aged 20 and older in cycle 1 and 14 and older in cycle 2 also agreed to have their DNA samples extracted and stored. After four years of data collection, the CHMS has stored about 150,000 small test tubes of whole blood, blood fractions and urine from about 12,000 survey participants aged 3 to 79. DNA samples were also extracted and frozen for storage from about 6,500 participants aged 14 and older.
The CHMS plans to continue adding biospecimens to the biobank with each survey cycle.
More information can be found under Available stored biospecimens.
The CHMS biospecimens are available to any Canadian researcher who completes a review process and would benefit from a national population survey of about 5,600 participants per cycle. Applications are welcome from "bona fide" researchers that conduct research in Canada. Bona fide researchers are directed or supervised by a recognized public or private organization.
A targeted call for proposals will be held twice per year. Proposals can be submitted within a two-month period each spring and fall. Specific dates will be announced at the time of the call for proposals.
Researchers should provide the following documents when applying for access to the biobank:
Statistics Canada has established a thorough review process to grant researchers restricted access to conduct tests and studies using the anonymous biospecimens. Statistics Canada will first conduct a feasibility review of each application to determine biospecimen availability, conduct a methodological evaluation and review laboratory and operational requirements. Applications deemed feasible will be provided back to the researcher with a cost-estimate to arrange for appropriate funding. Researchers will also be asked at this time to submit standard operating procedures for the proposed laboratory methods. The application will then be reviewed by the CHMS Biobank Advisory Committee, comprised of federal and non-federal health experts.
Statistics Canada's Policy Committee will review the Biobank Advisory Committee's recommendation and make the final decision. Funding and research ethics board approval need to be secured before a final decision can be made. Notification of the Policy Committee’s decision will be delivered to researchers through the CHMS biobank coordinator.
If the research proposal is accepted, researchers must take an oath to protect data confidentiality. Laboratory analyses can be completed in a laboratory of the researcher's choice; however, the laboratory must meet all of Statistics Canada's security requirements. The researcher must cover any costs associated with meeting the security requirements as well as all costs for the laboratory testing and analyses.
Delivery of the biospecimens for an approved project is estimated to take up to one year from the time of the application. The researcher will have to pay for access to the biospecimens on a cost-recovery basis.
To submit an application, or if you have any questions, please contact the biobank coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summaries of all national studies that receive approval to use the stored biospecimens are posted on the CHMS website for a minimum of six weeks prior to the shipment of biospecimens. In doing so, survey participants are informed about how their biospecimens are being used and can, if they wish, ask that their biospecimens be withdrawn from the studies. This entire process is overseen by the Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada Research Ethics Board, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and Statistics Canada's Policy Committee.
Researchers can access all CHMS data from Research Data Centres (RDCs) across Canada. This will include any of their laboratory results that can be merged with other variables collected as part of the CHMS. Researchers must also sign an agreement with Statistics Canada on control of data use and publication.
Results from any project using stored biospecimens will have to be made available through the RDCs and share partners. Published results will only be presented as combined data. No individual or identifiable data will ever be published.
Currently, there are no studies being conducted using biospecimens from the CHMS biobank.