Biosample Repository Facility

Pathology Consultant:
Brittaney L. Brown, BA
Traci Brown, Research Patient Recruiter
Barbara D. Dettore, BSW, Research Study Assistant
Mary Donovan, CTR, Senior Data Manager
Diane Faison, Scientific Technician II
Mary P. Gilroy, AS, Research Study Assistant
James Hittle, Technical Specialist
Karen Kaputa, MLT/HT, ASCP, Staff Technician/Tumor Bank Manager
Alexis Koemm, BS, Scientific Technician II
Chao Wu, MS, Technical Specialist
& Phone:
CPP 2025 and C413
1-888-831-6466, 215-214-1652 (recruitment)
Pricing & Scheduling:
Contact Brittaney Brown
[email protected]
CPP P2011


The Biosample Repository Facility (BRF) coordinates the ethical collection, storage, annotation and distribution of human biospecimens and associated clinical data and interventions, patient and family cancer history data, and lifestyle factors under Institutional Review Board-approved protocols. We adhere to the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories and National Cancer Institute Best Practices for Biospecimen Resources and participate in the NCI Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Resources and Biospecimen Research Network. The BRF expediates bidirectional flow from lab bench to clinic, and facilitates translational research associated with clinical trials and basic research. We provide tissue-based research services—including tissue microarray construction and immunohistochemistry and automated tissue image analysis—to support translational and basic research.

Access to Biospecimens for Research

Fox Chase Cancer Center's Biosample Repository processes and banks blood specimens—including whole blood, plasma, buffy coat, viable cyropreserve leukocytes, and DNA isolated from leukocytes—and tissues—including fresh tissue, snap frozen tissue, fixed paraffin embedded tissue, multi-tissue microarrays and tumor DNAs—collected by our facility and makes them available for research. Requests for blood and tissue specimens are reviewed by a panel of scientists. Priority is given to those investigators with current NIGH/NCI funding, but will be made available as recommended by the facility advisory committee.

View Repository Guidelines
& Inventory Lists

  • FCCC has a long history of biospecimen collection and banking with centralized efforts for collection of tissue and bodily fluid biospecimens since 1990 and 1999, respectively. In 2008, these facilities merged to form the current Biosample Repository Facility. The image above shows manual fractionation of a blood specimen.

  • The Hamilton easyBlood STARlet is an automated liquid handler that uses image-based detection of blood layers for fractionation and transfer of plasma, buffy coat, and red blood cells, into one or multiple barcoded aliquots for frozen storage.

  • Perkin Elmer Vectra Multispectral Imaging System with a 200 slide carousel for high throughput image acquisition and image analysis and quantification using Inform software.

  • Perkin Elmer Vectra Multispectral Imaging System with a 200 slide carousel for high throughput image acquisition and image analysis and quantification using Inform software.

  • The FCCC Biosample Repository Facility laboratories house multiple -196°C N2 vapor phase storage vessels -80°C freezers for long term storage of individual fractions from over 60,000 blood specimens and 21,000 tissue specimens.

    Denise Connolly, PhD
    Facility Director
    [email protected]
    Hong Wu, MD, PhD
    Pathology Consultant
    [email protected]
    Brittaney L. Brown, BA
    Facility Manager
    [email protected]

    Donor recruitment, biospecimen collection and processing

    Traci Brown
    Research Patient Recruiter
    [email protected]
    Barbara D. Dettore, BSW
    Research Study Assistant
    [email protected]
    Mary Donovan, CTR
    Senior Data Manager
    [email protected]
    Diane Faison
    Scientific Technician II
    [email protected]
    Mary Pat Gilroy, AS
    Research Study Assistant
    [email protected]
    Alexis Koemm, BS
    Scientific Technician II
    [email protected]

    Tissue collection, TMA construction, immunohistochemistry and automated image analysis

    James Hittle
    Technical Specialist
    [email protected]
    Karen Kaputa, MLT/HLT, ASCP
    Staff Tech/Tumor Bank Manager
    [email protected]
    Chao Wu, MS
    Technical Specialist
    [email protected]


    The Biosample Repository Facility (BRF) staff consents patients for the collection of biospecimens including blood, urine, saliva, bone marrow and tissue. The Facility also consents people without known cancer for donation of blood. Patients coming to FCCC for pre-surgical evaluation or non-surgical appointments are contacted by telephone or approached by BRF patient recruiters for consent in Pre-Admission Testing (PAT) or at clinic visits. Each patient is asked to read and sign two documents: 1) Informed Consent Document and 2) Authorization (Permission) to Use or Disclose (Release) Protected Health Information (PHI) for Research. Participants are also asked to complete a health history questionnaire. The potential risks and benefits of participation are fully explained and discussed with each potential participant through a process of informed consent. Participants are given multiple opportunities to ask questions and may withdraw from the study at any time. Collection of biospecimens and associated data for the BRF is approved by the Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) Institutional Review Board (IRB). All key personnel involved in the design or conduct of the research involving human tissues have received the required education on the protection of human research participants.

    Due to the sensitive nature of family and personal medical information, the BRF takes precautions to protect the privacy of participants. Each participant is given a unique participant identification code number that is associated with all demographic, questionnaire data and biospecimens. In addition, all biospecimens are assigned specimen-specific identification numbers at the time of collection. Each sample barcode and number is printed on the label in a legible form and all references to the participant's name and address are removed. The information collected is handled according to the strict guidelines of a monitored research environment and does not become part of a permanent medical record nor is it made available to other individuals or institutions. Access to confidential information, such as names and addresses and other personal health information are limited to the staff of the BRF and Population Studies Facility (PSF). The FCCC computers used for storing the information are protected from inappropriate outside access by the FCCC firewall provided by the Research Computing Services Internet Working Facility at FCCC. All BRF personnel are instructed in the ethics of data access.

    BRF Oversight and Review of Requests for Specimens and Data

    Operation of the Biosample Repository is the responsibility of Dr. Denise Connolly who provides overall direction and supervision of the Facility manager and individuals in charge of collecting, processing and distributing the biospecimens and the epidemiologic data donated by eligible research participants. Dr. Hong Wu, a Board Certified Anatomic Pathologist, reviews all tumor tissues that are deposited in the BRF. The BRF has a Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) comprised of faculty members including Pathologists, Medical Oncologists, Basic Scientists and Behavioral Scientists that is directly involved in the development of BRF policies and procedures to accommodate the unique resources and needs of individual investigators. The FAC meets formally with Dr. Connolly annually to review all issues related to the BRF and provide advice for new policies and procedures proposed for the BRF. The BRF FAC provides an annual summary report to the Facilities Parental Oversight Committee that in turn reports to Dr. Jonathan Chernoff, the Chief Scientific Officer.

    The BRF makes specimens and services available to FCCC investigators and external users. Investigators interested in using the BRF resources are asked to submit Specimen Request Form for review of investigator requests for BRF biospecimens. Investigators are required to submit a detailed research proposal, which is reviewed by the Facility Director and Manager to ensure feasibility and availability of the requested materials, and must be approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Specimen requests for limited availability specimens are reviewed by members of the BRF FAC. These independent methods of review help to optimize use of this precious resource. Priority is given to investigators who have received peer-reviewed grant support. External investigators will have access to the biospecimens once the IRB (at the requesting institute) and the BRF and FAC have granted approval of the proposed studies. Once requests are approved, the BRF staff assembles the requested materials and ships to the requesting investigator. Pre-surgical serum/plasma and primary tumor samples are the most commonly depleted resource. In such cases, the following guidelines are followed:

    • Priority 1 - NCI/NIH funded FCCC investigators
    • Priority 2 - Other funded FCCC investigators
    • Priority 3 - Non-funded FCCC investigators (primarily junior investigators)
    • Priority 4 - NCI/NIH funded investigators outside of FCCC
    • Priority 5 - Other funded investigators outside of FCCC
    • Priority 6 - Non-funded Investigators outside of FCCC

    Available Specimens

    View Inventory Lists

    To request specimens, please follow the link for the specimen request form, complete and return to Brittaney Brown, BRF manager, at [email protected] or [email protected]. Please feel free to call us at 215-214-1633 with any questions.

    BRF Specimen Request Form — Internal (FCCC/TUHS staff only)

    BRF Specimen Request Form — External

    Progress cancer research has increased tremendously due to experiments preformed in laboratories on samples obtained from patients with and without cancer. Laboratory-based studies of human specimens help scientists discover the cause of a cancer by identifying abnormalities present in cancer cells and in the surrounding cells in their environment. These discoveries have the potential to lead to new ways to detect and treat cancer. To facilitate these new discoveries, Fox Chase Cancer Center established a centralized Biosample Repository designed to collect biospecimens, including tumor tissue and bodily fluids, including blood, urine, and saliva from patients who have cancer, and blood and saliva from participants without cancer, to support scientific research in laboratories to learn more about cancers. Participation in the Biosample Repository is voluntary and includes only people who choose to take part.

    If you choose to participate in the Biosample Repository, you may be asked to donate blood, excess tumor tissue that is removed and would otherwise be discarded, and in some cases, additional blood or urine samples annually or on return visits for follow-up care. In addition, we will ask you to fill out a questionnaire to provide your health information. The Biosample Repository may also collect medical information about you and your samples from your medical record. To protect your privacy, each participant will be given a code number for use in the Biosample Repository. The coded samples and your data will then be stored in the Biosample Repository Facility.

    Contact Information

    Denise C. Connolly, PhD
    Director, Biosample Repository Facility
    [email protected]

    Brittaney L. Brown, BA
    Manager, Biosample Repository Facility
    [email protected]