For Researchers

MCW Tissue Bank Service Flyer

The MCW Tissue Bank offers the following specimens and services:

  • Plasma
  • Buffy coat
  • Fresh tissue procurement
  • Snap frozen tissue
  • OCT embedded tissue
  • Unstained slides
  • H&E stained slides
  • Slide scanning
  • Specimen QC
  • DNA from blood or tissue
  • RNA from blood or tissue
  • Storage of specimens

If there is interest in specimens or services not listed above, the MCW Tissue Bank staff will work with investigators to determine feasibility of additional services whenever possible.


  • -80° freezers
  • Slide and block cabinets
  • Grossing bench
  • Autostainer
  • Biological cabinet
  • Centrifuges
  • Automated DNA/RNA isolation unit
  • Nanozoomer slide scanner

Specimen Banking

Once a clinical specimen arrives in Pathology, nothing is allowed to leave the premises until it has been clinically evaluated. It is the responsibility of the MCW Tissue Bank Pathologists’ Assistant, WDL Pathologists’ Assistants, Pathology residents, and/or Pathologists to make all clinical evaluations and determine what can be released for research purposes. Some specimens with small quantities may not be banked.

The MCW Tissue Bank will never compromise integrity of specimens and their subsequent clinical diagnoses for research purposes because patient health is the number one priority of the Pathology department.

MCW Tissue Bank Hours of Operation

Outside of the MCW Tissue Bank’s working hours, on holidays and weekends, tissue will not be banked or distributed for research purposes. Tissue bank staff and pathology residents are not to be paged to procure tissue during these times. The only time there may be an exception to this policy is if a specimen is received in pathology for the purpose of an intraoperative consultation. At that time, the pathologist performing the intraoperative consultation may provide tissue for research purposes as long as it does not compromise the integrity of the specimen and the subsequent clinical diagnosis, or require access to the banking facility.

MCW Tissue Bank is open only Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. MCW Tissue Bank is closed on all scheduled MCW holidays, on weekends and after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Specimen Requests

All requests for specimens of the central MCW Tissue Bank must go through the appropriate processes:

    1. Researchers provide the MCW Tissue Bank with completed request form
    2. Obtain approval from the Utilization Committee
    3. Obtain approval from the Executive Committee
    4. Obtain approval from the IRB if identifiers are needed

How Do Researchers Find Information About Available Specimens?

The Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) created a tool to help researchers access information without patient identifiers. Primary Investigators may sign up using the CTSI website:

Description from CTSI Website

The i2b2 Cohort Discovery Tool provides an easy-to-use, self-service method for Medical College of Wisconsin researchers to query the CRDW to answer the question, “Does the CRDW contain a cohort of patients with certain characteristics?” Search criteria can include patient demographics, ICD9 coded diagnoses, ICD9 and CPT coded procedures, laboratory test results, inpatient pharmacy orders and clinical encounter characteristics such as provider, specialty or department.

In response to a query, the i2b2 Cohort Discovery Tool returns an approximate number of patients matching the search criteria. No patient identifiers or clinical data is revealed. Researchers can store their cohort searches online and later meet with staff from the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical & Translational Research Informatics team to discuss how they might review and extract detailed clinical data on patient cohorts for research purposes.

Release of identified data from the CRDW for research purposes requires Medical College of Wisconsin IRB approval. Templated language for primary investigators to include in IRB applications is available on the CTRI web site.

Terms of Use

Users of the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical & Translational Research Informatics i2b2 Cohort Discovery Tool acknowledge that:

  • This system was not designed, nor is it intended, to support any aspect of patient care and its use for any patient care purposes is prohibited.
  • The results returned by this system may not be distributed outside of Medical College of Wisconsin.
  • All searches executed within the system are recorded and will be examined, as part of routine compliance audits. System user identity is recorded along with information related to each executed search.
  • No person registered as a user of the system may share his/her login information with any other person for purposes of accessing this system.
  • Only registered users who are Medical College of Wisconsin Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, Postdocs or Academic Staff may use the system.


To use the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical & Translational Research Informatics i2b2 Cohort Discovery Tool you must be:

  • A CTSI member: Join CTSI here
  • Medical College of Wisconsin Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, Postdoc or Academic Staff with a Faculty PI on the research project
  • Provisioned with mcwcorp login credentials
  • Connected to the Medical College of Wisconsin network
  • Current with MCW-required CITI training modules

Need help with the i2b2 Cohort Discovery Tool?

Access & Training :

Kristen Osinkski, MS,
Biomedical Informatics
Business Analyst
(414) 805-7245

Brad Taylor
Chief Research Informatics Officer
(414) 805-7307


Turnaround Time for Specimen Processing & Distribution

Once Executive Committee approval is made for specimens stored in the Bank, an allowance of up to two weeks turnaround time for receipt of specimens should be expected.

If requests require additional time for processing, the research team will be notified.

Budget & Cost of Services

The MCW Tissue Bank will provide researchers with a budget for cost of all services provided by the Bank.

Specimen Sign Out & Distribution

All specimens leaving the MCW Tissue Bank for research purposes must be signed out by the person physically taking the specimen from the Bank and be attributed to the appropriate IRB protocol.

Study Suspension or Termination

In an instance where a study becomes suspended or terminated for any reason, it is the responsibility of the study’s PI to immediately notify the MCW Tissue Bank in writing (email will be acceptable) that it has occurred, and all distribution of specimens will cease.

Offsite Collaborations

MCW researchers interested in sharing specimens with offsite collaborators must have the following in place before receiving specimens:

  1. Material Transport Agreement (MTA)
  2. Biological Shipment Training

If you have any questions about MTAs, please contact April Haverty | 955-4844.
For access to Biological Shipping training, contact