Private Data, Human Specimens and Cells

Investigators are reminded of the sanctity of private information and human specimens, including blood tissue and cells. Appropriate respect and procedures should be observed while handling and disposing of human specimens.

COUHES does not consider research to involve "human subjects" where the research uses only coded private data, specimens or cells, provided the data, specimens or cells were not collected specifically for the proposed research by an intervention with a living individual, and provided the researcher cannot identify the individual(s) from whom the data, specimens or cells were obtained (for example because the key to decipher the code has been destroyed or an agreement exists prohibiting the release of the key to the investigators). If the proposed research does not fulfill the above criteria then it is subject to review by COUHES.

Prior to beginning their research on human specimens, investigators must have completed biosafety training. For further information, contact the Biosafety Programs Office at 617-253-1740 or visit their website: 

Investigators should also refer to Guidelines on Data Protection.