Tissue Procurement


Hong Jin Kim, MD, Medical Director

J. Todd Auman, PhD, Facility Director
Leigh Thorne, MD, Faculty Pathologist
Mei Huang, PhD, Facility Manager


Tissue Procurement from UNC Hospitals and Rex HealthCare

This includes general procurement and specific investigator-directed procurement of fresh, frozen tissue in OCT or RNALater, formalin-fixed paraffin embedded malignant and non-malignant tissue (including tumor tissue and adjacent or distant non-tumor tissue from the same surgery, when possible) from consenting adult patients.

Blood Procurement and Processing

Collection and preparation of blood components from peripheral human blood (plasma, serum, buffy coat, and packed red blood cells). Serum, matched to malignant and normal tissues, is now routinely collected at UNCH as part of our general tissue procurement activity for proteomic applications. In addition, hematology samples from peripheral blood and bone marrow are banked as cryopreserved cells and cell pellet. Cheek swabs are collected for furture DNA isolation.

Quality Assurance/Histopathologic Review

Preparation of quality control sections from each specimen and evaluation by the facility Pathologist to ensure that appropriate and representative diagnostic tissue is procured. Confirmation of morphology of all tissues banked, prior to distribution to any researcher to ensure representative tissue is used in research.

Support of oncology clinical trials

Specimen collection, handling and processing of tissues, blood, other fluids in support of institutional and national clinical trials, coordinated in collaboration with the UNC LCCC Clinical Protocol Office and the PI of the protocol. This service includes banking and shipping to appropriate researchers, clinical trials groups.

Other biospecimen collection and banking

In addition to tissues and blood specimens, the facility collects, processes, banks and distributes other biospecimens, such as toenails, fat biopsies, urine, other fluids, largely in support of population-based studies. The facility maintains inventory and surveillance of these study-specific specimen collections.

Tissue Sectioning

For paraffin blocks that are processed by the facility and those archived in Surgical Pathology, the facility interacts with the translational core to provide tissue sectioning for thick and thin sections for multiple applications, (IHC, FISH, molecular assays, LCM, TMA’s).

Nucleic Acid isolation

DNA/RNA is isolated from snap frozen tissue or cheek swabs upon requests from the PI. Samples are quantified by Nanodrop.

Database Management and Tissue Bank Searches

The facility manages the bank of tissue and blood for general use and also provides this as a service for individual projects with restricted-use specimen collections. Facility personnel perform searches to determine feasibility and logistical needs for investigators developing pilot studies, hypothesis generating, preliminary data collection, as well as methods development and optimization purposes.

Alternate Collection Sites

We are currently collecting at our newest site, Pitt Memorial Hospital. Read more about  our collections at East Carolina University. Icon indicating that a link will open an external site.

Other Tissue Resources

The National Cancer Institute and its Cancer Diagnosis Program (CDP) has links to several programs that can provide human tissues for research. NCI also has a Specimen Resource Locator. To access these resources, click here.


J Todd Auman, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Facility Director, oversees the daily functioning of the lab and maintains and develops policies for responsible research and patient consent issue.

Leigh B. Thorne, MD, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Facility Pathologist, performs all quality assurance to ensure high quality and accurate classification of procured specimens.

H.J. Kim, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery Oncology, is the Clinical Director and liaison with the medical and surgical staffs.

Mei Huang, PhD, Facility Manager, coordinates investigator requests for tissues and assays, with appropriate patient consent, quality assurance checks with the facility pathologist, and maintains appropriate management and organization of tissue storage and disbursement, and billing.

Lori Boice, Data Manager, performing data abstraction and data mining upon request. Lori is also monitoring the data quality.

Baocheng Huang Research Specialist, performs blocks processing, including cassette processing, embedding and sectioning. Daynise is also processing regular blood samples as needed.

Qichen Hu and Mingjie Li, Research Specialists, perform blood processing including preparation of serum, plasma, buffy coat, and PBMC isolations. They also perform cryosections upon requests.

Matt Zeman and Christina Lee, Research Specialists, are the dedicated UNC OR tissue procurement personnel, employing QA and QC measures to all specimens procured and assist in other areas of the facility.

Tracie Wagner, PA (ASCP), is located in the pathology department and assists in procuring our tissue.

Kim Skelding, Research Technician, is the dedicated tissue procurement person for REX Hospital in Raleigh, NC, employing QA and QC measures to all specimens procured and assists in other areas of the facility.

For More Information

Process to Obtain Specimens: Investigators should contact the facility manager, (919-966-2620) or the facility director, (919- 843-8477) to assess your request for services, including searching the database for specific specimens. The investigator then fills out the electronic packet, “Request for Services”, a short application packet which includes a brief description of the study, documentation of UNC IRB approval, Services Form, lab policies and letter of research agreement (where the investigator and collaborators agree to abide by TPF lab policies) and account information for charges. Request for services packets are reviewed regularly by the TPF Advisory Committee. Prior to receiving samples all requested documents and letters must be on file at the TPF. Prior to any directed procurement, the investigator will meet with the Tissue Procurement Coordinator to assess the needs of the investigator, including type and number of specimens required, conditions for procurement, transport, storage, and application. All proposals submitted are reviewed at least monthly by the Medical Director, Laboratory Director, Facility Pathologist and Manager for appropriateness, completeness, and feasibility. Please contact Mei Huang for copies of the Tissue Procurement packets.

Policies and Procedures

Tissue is only procured after the pathologist has obtained the appropriate specimen information for patient care (e.g. diagnosis, inking of margins, etc.). TPF personnel must receive the specimen or receive approval for the specimen from the attending pathologist. No specimen is distributed to any investigator until a final diagnosis has been received from pathology. No specimen is procured unless the patient has been appropriately informed and signed a consent form for such procurement. (note: for some protocols this consent may be the same as a clinical trial consent form). Specimens collected using the TPF consent cannot be distributed for germline studies (studies of inherited characteristics). Specimens can only be collected or distributed for germline DNA studies if the investigator has obtained a separate and specific informed consent from the patient. Specimens distributed to investigators cannot be sold or shared with any third party or other investigator. If there are other collaborators on the study for which specimens are being procured, those investigators need to be listed on the original study (include information in letter of research agreement). Specimens are distributed with a unique identification number generated by the laboratory. No patient identifying information is distributed with any sample. Patient privacy and confidentiality are essential and the investigator and TPF personnel must take all precautions to ensure compliance of our policies and protect against violation of patient privacy and confidentiality. The investigator must agree to abide by policies and procedures of the Tissue Procurement Facility and sign a letter of research agreement for ethical and appropriate conduct of their research that utilizes any specimen obtained from the TPF.