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Last Updated: 08/15/16

Finding Human Biospecimens for Research

The Pathology Investigation and Resources Branch support programs that collect and distribute human biospecimens programs through grant funding. These programs make high-quality tissue and associated data available to the research community. Listed below is a description of current PIRB supported programs.

NCI Specimen Resource Locator

NCI Specimen Resource Locator is a biospecimen resource database designed to helps scientist locate resources that may have samples needed for their investigational use. The publically searchable database includes information about biospecimen banks and sample procurement services. Investigators can search the database and gain access to thousands of samples from various tumor types, organ and preservation method.

To learn more go to:

The NCI Tissue Expediter

In the event of an unsuccessful Specimen Resource Locator database search the researcher can contact the NCI Tissue Expediter, a scientist who matches researchers with appropriate resources as well as identifies potential collaborators if needed.

Contact the Tissue Expediter at:

NCI’s CDP-Supported Specimen Resources

  • The Cooperative Human Tissue Network (CHTN) prospectively collects and distributes human biospecimens requested by research scientists. The specimens provided support basic discovery and translational research and diagnostic assay development. To learn more go to:
  • The Cooperative Group Banks/NCI Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) Banks

    The Cooperative Group Banks/NCI Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) Banks collect specimens from large NCI trials where cancer patients are treated for a variety of malignancies. Specimens with clinical treatment and outcome data may be available for clinical correlative studies. To learn more, visit

    The NCTN Biospecimen Navigator tool provides a comprehensive inventory of NCTN bank biospecimens and is the central gateway for the request process to use them. Investigators can use this self-service search engine to look for biospecimens by cancer type, initiate the request process, and track the progress of submitted requests. Please visit

  • Cancer Diagnosis Program Tissue Microarrays (TMAs)
    1. CDP Breast Cancer Progression and Prognostic TMAs were constructed using tissue and associated pathological and clinical outcome data from the Cooperative Breast Cancer Tissue Resource (CBCTR). The Progression TMA is designed to permit comparisons of biomarker expression across three stages of disease (node-negative, node positive and metastatic). The Prognostic TMA is designed for examination of biomarkers and correlation with survival and recurrence outcomes in stage I, II and III breast cancer. Both TMAs were designed to ensure high statistical power for evaluation and validation of breast cancer biomarkers.
    2. CDP Melanoma Progression TMA contains nevi, primary melanomas, metastatic melanoma to the lymph node, and visceral and dermal metastatic melanoma. This TMA is designed to investigate differences in expression of markers in various stages of melanoma progression and should be used as a screening array.

      TMA’s are distributed through the Cooperative Human Tissue Network, Mid-Atlantic Division, University of Virginia.