The storage and use of human tissue in medical research is highly regulated.

Working in collaboration, Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals provide a range of services to underpin human tissue research, including sample provision via our biobanks, prospective tissue collection, storage and processing.  All services are underpinned by a robust quality management system and are subject to regular audit.  Further information is provided below.

What is a biobank?

To facilitate the storage of tissue for use in future research projects, Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals each hold a research sector Human Tissue Act licence (ref. 12534 and ref. 12193, respectively).  The retention of these valuable biological samples until they are required is called “Biobanking”, with the physical storage environment being a “biobank”. 

As a regulatory requirement, each institution must appoint a Designated Individual, who is responsible for ensuring intuitional compliance with the Act.  Details of these individuals are provided below:

Designated Individuals

Biobanks may only be established at pre-approved storage locations within our premises, each with an assigned Person Designated, named on each licence.  Further information on approved storage locations may be obtained from the Designated Individuals listed above.

A large number of samples are held in Newcastle biobanks, and are available for use in academic and also commercial research.

How can I find out what samples are available in Newcastle Biobanks?

Several large biobanks are situated in Newcastle with tissue from both normal donors and from donors with a specific medical condition. A list of the collections stored on Newcastle University premises can be found at the following link: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/biobanks/collections.  Each collection owner should be contacted directly to determine the samples available and the access policy.

For information on samples available in Newcastle Hospitals, please contact sheila.graham2@nuth.nhs.uk.

What do I do if I want to use samples stored in a biobank?

When a research project is identified that requires the use of stored human tissue samples, researchers should contact the biobank directly to request access, providing details of the intended research and required sample numbers/details.  The biobank’s Access Committee will then review the request, based on the scientific merit of the proposed research project, sample availability and any other factors (e.g. conflicting requests).

Once approved, researchers must gain appropriate research ethics committee (REC) approval to use the samples, ensuring appropriate and valid consent is in place for the intended purpose. Some REC approved Research Tissue Banks may be able to provide researchers with appropriate ethical approval to use human tissue samples within biobanks and researchers should approach biobanks to determine if this is possible.

What if the sample I want is not already available?

If the tissue sample you require is not currently available, please contact the Cellular Pathology tissue bank (CEPA) to discuss your requirements and the options available to you – Sheila Graham, sheila.graham2@nuth.nhs.uk

What do I do if I want to store tissue?

Researchers wishing to store human tissue for future research purposes may only do so in approved storage locations and following discussion with the appropriate Designated Individual. 

Requests may be made to store samples at the Central Biobank (biobank@ncl.ac.uk)

What tissue processing services are available?

A range of tissue processing services are available through Newcastle Central Biobank and Newcastle Laboratories.  For further information, please refer to biobank@ncl.ac.uk.

How is human tissue research and storage regulated?

The storage of human tissue for use in future research is regulated under the Human Tissue Act (2004).  Research using human tissues must be conducted ensuring appropriate consent and ethical approval is in place to do so, and data stored in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Compliance with these regulations is assessed by the Newcastle Joint Research Office Quality Management Team.