Brain Tumour Tissue Bank: Researcher Information

Tissue Collection

Brain tumour tissue samples are collected during tumour removal surgery. These samples are immediately frozen in liquid nitrogen. Each frozen specimen has a matching piece of tumour that is processed and later cut onto a slide for quality control. Rigorous quality assurance procedures ensure scientific quality.

The anonymous brain tumour tissue samples are then coded by number and tracked in a comprehensive database. This level of detail allows the lab to meet very specific requests from researchers for tumour type, grade and characteristics.

The Brain Tumour Tissue Bank is housed in the state-of-the-art facilities at University Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, close to surgery. This ensures that gathering tissue samples and processing them is quick and efficient.

How to Request Samples

Interested researchers are required to fill out an application form, which is reviewed by the Medical Advisory Committee. For more information about current samples or for a quick search about what is available, please contact Marcela White at  

Source of Tissues

Brain tumor tissues are directly obtained and immediately processed and frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196 C in the operating room. Timing is very important in order to preserve freshness as tissues undergo rapid deterioration after removal.

In a standard brain tumour operation, after the tumour is removed only a small portion of this tissue is required by the pathology department to establish the diagnosis. The remaining tissue is not needed for diagnosis and can be stored at the Brain Tumour Tisssue Bank.

Tissue Availability

A wide variety of primary and secondary brain tumours, spinal tumours, peritumours and normal brain tissues for molecular, protein, enzyme and immunohistochemical studies.

Types of Specimens Available

A wide variety of brain tumour specimens are available in variable numbers, including:

  • Astrocytoma
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Ependymoma
  • Ganglioglioma
  • Glioblastoma
  • Gliosarcoma
  • Hemangioblastoma
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Meningioma
  • Metastasis - bowel, breast, colon, kidney, lung, melanoma
  • Normal Brain
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Oligoastrocytoma
  • Pilocytic astrocytoma
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma
  • Schwannoma

*** Matching whole blood samples and paraffin sections are also available with most cases.

Non-neuro pediatric tumours

In addition to brain tumour cases, tumor specimens from general paediatric surgeries are also banked. Quality control procedure is identical to brain tumour samples. Tissues available are:

  • Ganglioneuroblastoma
  • nephroblastoma
  • neuroblastoma
  • Wilm's tumour

Matching Clinical Information

Detailed clinical information is available to researchers upon request. All information is kept strictly confidential. Unique Brain Tumour Tissue Bank numbers are used for identification purposes.

Tissue Preparation

The specimens are obtained immediately upon removal and processed in the operating room for optimal molecular, biochemical and histological preservation.

Depending upon the size of the removed tissue, multiple samples are prepared from each case.

Each sample is then divided into three sections:

  • The first is cut into smaller fragments, laid along the inside of a cryotube and "SNAP FROZEN" in liquid nitrogen. These tissues are ideal for molecular and protein studies.
  • The second (middle piece) is placed in formalin for H&E stained CONTROL SLIDE preparation and is examined by the neuropathologist. This process is extremely important as it enables to classify what is actually banked (eg. tumor vs necrosis), and to identify tumor gradient for infiltrative types such as gliomas. These paraffin embedded tissues are also available for research.
  • The third is cryoprotected by being embedded in OCT freezing medium and frozen in liquid nitrogen. These tissues are ideal for immunohistochemical and histological studies. The OCT samples are only prepared on cases where extra tissue is available.

Quality Control

All of the control slides are graded by the bank's neuropathologist as Good, Moderate, or Poor depending upon the amount of tumour present (tumour vs necrotic, fibrotic, haemorrhagic, and cauterized tissue).

In addition, all infiltrative tumours (gliomas) are graded from control slides as follows:

i. tumour centre
ii. heavy tumour infiltrate
iii. light tumour infiltrate
iv. scant tumour cells
v. no visible tumour cells

Past Tissue Recipients


  • CancerCare Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB
  • Centre de Recherche du CHUL, Quebec, Quebec
  • College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK
  • Cytochroma Inc., Markham, ON
  • GeminX Pharmaceuticals, Montreal, Quebec
  • Hôpital Maisonneuve Rosemont, Research Center, Montreal, QC
  • Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON
  • Kinetek Pharmaceuticals Inc., Vancouver, BC
  • Laval University Hospital Research Center, Quebec City, QC
  • Lawson Research Institute, London, ON
  • London Regional Cancer Centre, London, ON
  • London Health Sciences Centre, London, ON
  • MCH Research Institute, Montreal, QC
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland, St.John’s, NL
  • Montreal General Hospital, Montreal, QC
  • Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM), Montreal, QC
  • Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, QC
  • Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON
  • Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, ON
  • Robarts Research Institute, London, ON
  • Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, ON
  • Sunnybrook & Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON
  • Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto, ON
  • University of Alberta, Edmonton AB
  • University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
  • University of Calgary, Calgary, AB
  • University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
  • University of Quebec, Montreal, QC
  • University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC
  • University of Victoria Genome BC Proteomics Centre, Victoria, B.C.
  • University of Western Ontario, London, ON
  • University of Windsor, Windsor ON


  • Amgen Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA, USA
  • Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
  • Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, Seattle, WA, USA
  • Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, USA
  • Gliatech Inc., Cleveland, OH, USA
  • Immusol Inc., San Diego, CA, USA
  • Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN,
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyons, France
  • International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Warsaw, Poland
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, USA
  • King's College, London, UK
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
  • Merck Serono International SA, Geneva, Switzerland
  • North Western University, Chicago, IL, USA
  • The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  • St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA
  • TGen, The Translational Genomics Research Inst., Phoenix, AZ, USA
  • The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA
  • Transmolecular Inc., Birmingham, AL, USA
  • University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • University of Milan, Milan, Italy
  • University of Natal, Congella, South Africa
  • University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL
  • University of Southern California Los Angeles, California, USA
  • University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, UK
  • University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK
  • University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
  • University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
  • Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA
  • Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA
  • Winship Cancer Institute Atlanta, Georgia, USA

For more information or for application forms, please contact:

The Brain Tumour Tissue Bank
London Health Sciences Centre
University Campus - Rm. C7-108
339 Windermere Rd.
London, Ontario N6A 5A5  Canada
Tel (519) 663-3427 Fax (519) 663-2930
Coordinator: Marcela White,
Director: Dr. David Ramsay,

Note: Known hepatitis or HIV positive specimens are not banked. However, application of universal precaution is highly recommended when handling human tissues.

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