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Last Updated: 07/31/23

Finding Human Biospecimens for Research

The Pathology Investigation and Resources Branch (PIRB) supports programs that collect and distribute human biospecimens through grant funding. These programs make high-quality tissue samples and associated data available to the research community. Listed below are some of the current PIRB-supported programs.

NCI Specimen Resource Locator

The NCI Specimen Resource Locator is a biospecimen resource database designed to help researchers locate samples needed for investigational use. This publicly searchable database includes information about biospecimen banks and sample procurement services. The specimens and samples come from non-commercial, either NCI or non-NCI-funded resources. The searchable database allows access to thousands of specimens of various tumor, organ, and preservation methods.

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 NCI Cooperative Human Tissue Network (CHTN) is a resource that provides human malignant, benign, diseased, and normal biospecimens to the scientific community for research purposes. The CHTN is a prospective human biospecimen procurement resource funded by the NCI since 1987. These samples are available in a variety of preservation methods including fresh, frozen, paraffin embedded blocks, or histological slides.
  • NCI National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) Biospecimen Banks collect specimens from large NCI trials where cancer patients are treated for a variety of malignancies. The purpose of the NCTN Banks resource is to maintain a publicly available supply of quality NCI Clinical Trials human biospecimens and to provide fair and open access to qualified investigators in the research community.
  • The NCTN Navigator database 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.