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The NorthShore Biospecimen Repository (NSBR) serves as the central repository of biospecimens collected from patients for use in future research, from surgical tissue for study in a clinical trial to biobanked body fluids for biomarker development.

The NSBR features three major collections:

  • Cancer Collection
    The first collection contained normal and tumorigenic breast surgical specimens collected as part of ECOG (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group) in 1996. The collection of tumor specimens has since expanded to include thoracic, prostate, pancreas and colon surgical specimens, both fresh-frozen and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues. Interest in biomarkers led to the collection of blood and other bodily fluids for most cancer sites. Several current protocols include the collection of DNA for genomic analysis beyond the somatic changes that occur during tumor progression. In the Cancer Collection alone, we have stored well over 100,000 biospecimens.

  • Microbiology Collection
    This collection holds bacterial isolates and clinical specimens such as blood cultures, swabs, stool and tissues.

  • Genetics Collection
    This collection houses blood components of non-cancer patients as well as those biospecimens collected from the thousands of participants in NorthShore’s far-reaching Genomic Health Initiative (GHI). Launched in March 2014, this initiative aims to better connect the dots between the many genes in the human body and the influence genetic variations from individual to individual can have on disease development and treatment.

Currently more than 20 research projects actively contribute to the various biobanked collections in 16 large ultra-low freezers. NorthShore’s electronic medical record (EMR) system integrates and links the essential pathologic and clinical information associated with the biospecimens.

Annotating System

For each specimen regardless of the repository type, the NSBR collects several common data points, including age at diagnosis, adjuvant therapy, cancer stage, disease specific information, family history of disease as appropriate for the specimen. In addition, the biobank gathers information on some epidemiological factors (i.e., race, diet, smoking history), as well as disease-specific and/or overall survival.

The NSBR employs a sophisticated information management program to track specimens and any associated data. The program allows us to document each step of the process:

  1. Patient consent to participate in a research study
  2. Collection and processing of specimens
  3. Annotation of the clinical and pathological characteristics associated with the specimens
  4. Tracking the location of the specimens during storage
  5. Retrieving specific specimens for disbursement to qualified researchers for translational studies

While we provide subsidized services to NorthShore investigators, we also may collect specimens for IRB-approved studies at other non-profit institutions or non-academics. For a full list of these services and pricing, please reach out to Kathy Mangold at

For more information, contact Kathy A. Mangold, PhD, Director, NorthShore Biospecimen Repository, at or call 847.570.2185.