About Us

40 Years of Partnership

The HD Biobank was established by Dr. Michael Hayden in the 1980’s and later developed in collaboration with Dr. Blair Leavitt. Samples from the HD community have facilitated important discoveries in the HD field and will undoubtedly continue to contribute to new advances in HD research. It is a fruitful partnership that continues to benefit the whole HD community.

The Vision of the HD Biobank

Leadership and staff of the biobank have come together under the same vision: to live in a world with less burden from HD. Our mission is to bank high quality samples and robust clinical data, to serve as an essential resource for HD research across Canada and worldwide.


HD Biobank Directors

Dr. Michael R. Hayden:

Dr. Hayden is a Killam Professor and Canadian Research Chair in Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Since the 1980’s, Dr. Hayden has worked tirelessly to understand the pathogenesis of HD. His lab developed the first predictive test for HD, which was implemented in 1986 in British Columbia, Canada and is now in routine practice globally. His work on HD and other inherited disorders has earned him international recognition including being named one of the 50 Canadians born in the 20th century who have changed the world. Dr. Hayden has exceptional knowledge in how to find treatments for genetic disease. His work produced the first approved gene therapy product (Glybera) in a major market in 2012. 

Dr. Blair R. Leavitt

Dr. Leavitt is a full Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics & the Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology (Associate) at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Leavitt is a consulting neurologist and Director of Research at the UBC Centre for Huntington Disease. A scientist and physician, Dr. Leavitt’s time (both clinical and research) is dedicated to developing new treatments for genetic brain disorders such as Huntington disease. He also works on other neurodegenerative diseases including Frontotemporal dementia and Fragile X. 

Biobank Administration

Clinical Coordinator: Jennifer Collins

Jennifer has worked with Dr. Hayden for 24 years, with Huntington disease research being the main focus of her work. She has helped to harness the power of this hugely valuable resource by supplying carefully selected samples and curated clinical data sets based on the specific needs of HD researchers. She maintains a database that integrates family history with genetic data and medical records to allow precise analyses of each subject and sample type. She has witnessed the impact that these precious samples have had on the field and is deeply committed to their utilization and protection.  

Biobank Manager: Stephanie Bortnick

Stephanie has worked with gifted patient samples for the past decade. Sample integrity, clinical comprehensiveness, and donor privacy are the cornerstones of research excellence, and Stephanie reflects this understanding in her care for each sample. She respects that each sample is donated with the hope of a treatment. She has a strong passion for facilitating the connection between the HD community and researchers, and the impact that it continues to foster.

Contact Us

Email address: hd.biobank@ubc.ca

Phone: 604-875-3811

Mailing Address:

HD Biobank at the UBC CMMT
950 West 28th Avenue, Room 3007
Vancouver, BC, Canada
V5Z 4H4

The HD Biobank acknowledges with gratitude and respect that we operate on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.