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U.S. National Institutes of Health
Last Updated: 09/04/12

How to Establish a Tissue Bank or Other Specimen Resource

Organizational models: types of tissue banks and other tissue resources

Several organizational models exist for tissue banks and other tissue resources.

  • A traditional tissue bank model involves the collection and storage of specimens and associated data at a single central facility.
  • A virtual bank model involves specimens collected and stored locally with the associated specimen data centralized. Requests for specimens are handled through a central coordinating office.
  • A prospective tissue procurement service involves the collection of specimens to meet investigator requests. In this model, most specimens (except for rare specimens) are stored only for limited time periods until they can be distributed to the investigators who requested them.For more information, please visit the Cooperative Human Tissue Network (CHTN)

Sources of information on how to establish a tissue resource

Investigators wishing to establish their own resources may find the following publications helpful:

  • Grizzle, W. E. and Sexton, K.C., “Development of a Facility to Supply Human Tissues to Aid in Medical Research,” in S. Srivastava et. al. (Eds.), Molecular Pathology of Early Cancer, IOS Press, p. 371 - 383, 1999.
  • Grizzle, W. E., Aamodt, R., Clausen, K., LiVolsi, V., Pretlow, T.G., Qualman, S., “Providing Human Tissues for Research: How to Establish a Program,” Arch. Pathol. Lab Med., Vol. 122, p. 1065 - 1076, 1998.
  • LiVolsi, V.A., Clausen, K.P., Grizzle, W., Newton, W., Pretlow, T.G., Aamodt, R., “The Cooperative Human Tissue Network,” Cancer, Vol. 71, No. 4, p. 1391 - 1394, 1993.
  • Clausen, K.P., Grizzle, W.E., LiVolsi, V., Newton, W.A., and Aamodt, R., “The Cooperative Human Tissue Network,” Cancer, Vol. 63, No. 7, p. 1452 - 1455, 1989.

Investigators wishing to collect and distribute human specimens for research must understand:

Investigators can obtain additional information from the Resources Development Branch staff.

Tissue procurement workshop

The Southern Division of the Cooperative Human Tissue Network (CHTN) sponsors a workshop entitled, "Designing and Maintaining a Tissue Repository" that is usually offered in conjunction with the annual meetings of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER).

Katherine C. Sexton
Tissue Procurement Facility, ZRB 449
University of Alabama at Birmingham
3201 First Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35222
Express mail: 703 South 19th Street, 35294-0007
Phone: (205) 934-6071
FAX: (205) 934-0816
CHTN Web Site: