The Georgia Cancer Center Biorepository (GCCB) provides a wide range of professional collection, annotation, and storage solutions. This Biorepository is also home to a state-wide resource, the Biorepository Alliance of Georgia for Oncology (BRAG-Onc), which functions to collect samples from 6 participating sites across the State to represent the diversity of cancer patients within the State and to enhance cancer research in Georgia.

Over the last 4 years, the Biorepository and BRAG-Onc have provided specimens for over 30 individual research projects and have also supplied samples to The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project. The NHGRI and NCI launched the full-scale landmark TCGA program, with the goal to perform in-depth molecular analysis and sequencing of 4,000 cancer patients representing the 20 most common cancers. Inclusion in the TCGA program earmarks BRAG-Onc and the GCC Biorepository as meeting the most stringent quality control standards for specimen processing.

The Biorepository collects and stores specimens under standardized conditions with accompanying clinical and demographic information and appropriate patient consent, in compliance with the most current Best Practices for Biorepositories as recommended by NCI’s OBBR and ISBER.

Tissue specimens are fast-frozen in vapor phase liquid nitrogen to preserve their integrity and stored in large cryofreezers at -170 to -190°C. Blood is routinely separated into serum or plasma and buffy coats prior to freezing.  Blood derivatives are stored at -70 to -80°C. The freezers are monitored constantly and are connected to an alarm system to ensure that the low temperatures are maintained.

Other methods of preparation and handling (such as fresh tissue or tumor cells for culture) are available by arrangement. A specialized Bone Marrow Repository for hematopoietic malignancies and disorders preserves frozen viable mononuclear cells, enriched by gradient centrifugation. There is also access to normal blood products through our collaboration with the Shepeard Community Blood Center.

The repository acts as a critical bridge between the clinical and research endeavors in advancing personalized medicine.

A Collaborative Effort

The collection of specimens, coordinated by the tumor bank, requires the collaboration of many individuals, such as surgical oncologists, surgery staff and pathologists. Most important in this process are the patients who donate specimens for future research. It is an opportunity for patients to contribute to science that may lead to better and earlier cancer detection and treatments. And donating makes use of tissue or other material that is unneeded for diagnosis and that would otherwise be discarded.

Contact Us

Biorepository

Health Sciences Campus

Georgia Cancer Center - M. Bert Storey Research Building

1410 Laney Walker Blvd., Augusta, GA 30912

Roni Bollag, MD/PhD
Director

(706) 721-4689

Monday - Friday
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Available Specimens

The repository collection includes a variety of specimen types, such as tumor tissue and cells, blood and other biofluids as well as normal specimens used as controls. The quality of all specimens is reviewed by a pathologist, and the information is captured in the tumor bank’s database. An imaging system will be used in the future to capture this information.

Human-derived specimens are a very precious resource, and therefore the operations of the tumor bank are overseen by an advisory board, representing Augusta University and other stakeholders, to ensure that the specimens are properly utilized and the privacy of specimen donors is protected.

Equipment

Biosafety cabinet

Biosafety cabinet

To maintain safety and sterility, samples are handled in a laminar flow biosafety cabinet in the main laboratory, frozen section room and in the ancillary COVID-19 laboratory.

Aperio Versa

Leica Aperio Versa

Digital slide scanning is carried out using the Leica Aperio Versa. The wide range of objective lenses and motorized nose piece for automatic changing, enables scanning of slides at their ideal resolution. Slides can be scanned anywhere from 0.9mm to 1.2mm thickness, with scan times of 206 secs for 15x15mm at 20x. With the 200-slide robotic slide loader, up to 200 slides may be scanned in one session. Scanned images of appropriate resolution are uploaded to Augusta University Box for secure access and storage. Files in .scn format may be viewed using Aperio ImageScope software from Leica.

Tissue Aliquots

Tissue Aliquots

Surgical samples transported directly from the OR are reviewed by a pathologists’ assistant or by a resident pathologist and ensuring specimen integrity for diagnosis, suitable samples are dissected and provided to biorepository personnel.  These samples are annotated and further dissected to provide multiple aliquots that can be flash-frozen or fixed in formalin for subsequent processing and distribution for translational research.

TMA GrandMaster

TMA GrandMaster

The TMA Grandmaster is a fully automated tissue microarray production platform with high capacity and high throughput. TMAs are produced by transfer of small tissue cores from a single patient block into a ‘recipient’ block with multiple arrays in parallel. Once generated, multiple tissues are arrayed on a single paraffin block and can be reproducibly interrogated with immunohistochemistry or in situ technologies. The construction of conventional TMAs is labor intensive, imprecise, and time-consuming. The use of an automated tissue microarray system such as the TMA Grand Master is a state-of-the-art solution to improve efficiency, reproducibility and quality. The TMA Grandmaster allows size and spatial flexibility with core diameters ranging from 0.6 mm to 2.0 mm, automated block image control and automated PCR extraction functions.

Vectra 3

Vectra 3

The Vectra 3 Multispectral Imaging system is an automated brightfield and fluorescence digital scanning microscope. Vectra’s automated, high-throughput imaging capabilities make it an ideal system to extract proteomic and morphometric information from intact tissue sections. The Vectra provides automated slide-handling via a 200-slide robotic slide-loader, brightfield and multispectral imaging technology and pattern recognition-based image analysis software.The system can identify nuclei with DAPI staining and superimpose up to 6 additional fluorophore-conjugated markers. Software algorithms can detect intensity and spatial information to quantitatively evaluate the tissue microenvironment. The Vectra3 is ideal for pre-clinical and clinical trial assessment.

Samples and Services

The Georgia Cancer Center Biorepository has amassed a collection exceeding 30,000 biological samples from over 18,000 registered donors. As a centralized shared resource, the facility and expert staff add value through experience, efficiency, standardization, accountability, protection of patient confidentially and timely completion of research.

Our services include:

    • Procurement, preparation and preservation of malignant, benign, and normal human specimens in a centralized repository
    • Providing frozen tumor tissue for viable cell studies
    • Processing and banking blood from cancer patients
    • Maintaining a tissue database with links to clinicopathological data
    • Providing histological staining and pathological review
    • Facilitation of compliance with all mandated regulatory processes (IRB, HIPAA, SRC) thereby promoting ethical research
    • Management of Clinical Trials collection

Process

1.) In order to obtain specimens, users must fill out the Request for Tissue Search to indicate the type and number of samples. The completed form can then be forwarded to Archana Laknaur. The personnel will conduct a search of the Biorepository collection to determine if the required samples are available. In the future, the Biorepository will have a searchable database available for these inquiries.

2.) Once confirmation of available samples has been obtained, requestors are required to fill out the Application for Banked Specimens. Please be as informative as possible when completing the application and include specific details on the scientific merit, statistical power calculations for the number of samples requested, and the planned experimentation. This will ensure timely review of your application. Applications that do not contain sufficient information for reviewers to make an informed decision will be returned.

3.) Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval or an exempt declaration is required for any study involving human tissues. The IRB has sanctioned two main biospecimen collection protocols: one for solid tumors (611107) and one for hematologic malignancies (611132). Beyond these protocols, Investigator-initiated biorepository projects require full IRB submission.

4.) Biorepository personnel will notify you to arrange collection of the samples. Sections and slides are also available for each of the samples upon request. You will be required to sign an acknowledgement upon receipt of tissues.

        • Frozen Specimens
        • Fresh Specimens
        • Bone Marrow - Bone marrow and blood specimens are collected and available as fresh cell isolates, frozen cell isolates or unprocessed.
        • Biofluids -The Biorepository collects a variety of biofluids from patients to support Augusta University research efforts. These include but are not limited to plasma, serum, urine and mononuclear cells. Normal blood products are available through our collaboration with the Shepeard Community Blood Center.
        • Tissue Sections and Slides - Tissue sections of blocks of a specified thickness are available through the biorepository. Representative sections of procured tumors are also accessible.

Forms

Request for Tissue Search     Application for Banked Specimens

Meet Our Team

photo of Roni Bollag, MD, PhD

Roni Bollag, MD, PhD

  • Director, Georgia Cancer Center Tumor Bank

(706) 721-0923

photo of Archana Laknaur

Archana Laknaur

photo of Audrey Eubanks

Audrey Eubanks

(706) 721-4689

photo of Denise Harper

Denise Harper

  • Administrative Assistant

(706) 721-7502

Take Our Survey

The Georgia Cancer Center's Bioinformatics team values your feedback. Please, take the time to complete this survey to let us know how your experience was and if there are any opportunities for improvement. Thank you for working with us and for sharing your insights.