How to efficiently obtain human tissues to support specific biomedical research projects

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009 Jun;18(6):1676-9. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0820. Epub 2009 May 12.


The purpose of this article is to facilitate access of biomedical researchers to human tissues by describing the types of tissue resources available to researchers, common problems with tissue requests that may limit tissue availability to specific investigators, and steps that can be taken to simplify requests to avoid these problems and enhance access to tissue. Types of human tissue resources available to investigators are described and reviewed, and the experience of the University of Alabama Tissue Collection and Banking Facility (TCBF) is described. Our experience indicates that typical problems with requests for tissue fall into the following categories: (1) size and number of specimens, (2) type (rarity and availability), (3) time constraints, (4) demand versus supply, (5) limitations and goals of the resource, and (6) time and resources that can be devoted to a specific request. Investigators should review their requests for human tissues to support their research if they are not receiving adequate quantities of tissue. This review is best accomplished by discussing their requests with the tissue resource and correcting specific limitations that block access to the tissues they need.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Specimen Banks / ethics
  • Biological Specimen Banks / organization & administration*
  • Biomedical Research* / ethics
  • Humans
  • Specimen Handling
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement* / ethics