Normal human tissues, bodily fluids, and other biospecimens of known quality are essential for research to understand the development of cancer and other diseases and to develop new diagnostics and therapies. However, obtaining normal biospecimens appropriate for contemporary large-scale molecular and genomic research is one of the most challenging biospecimen acquisition problems for scientists and biospecimen resources that support research. Recognizing this challenge, the U.S. National Cancer Institute recently convened a series of workshops and meetings focused on the acquisition of normal tissues for research and produced an extensive document, Recommendations for Postmortem Recovery of Normal Human Biospecimens for Research. This article summarizes these recommendations, addressing key ethical, operational, and scientific elements for collecting normal reference biospecimens from postmortem donors in the U.S. Awareness of these recommendations can foster more effective collaborations and mitigate potential logistical challenges, while promoting postmortem biospecimen donation options for families and increasing the availability of high quality normal biospecimens for research. The recommendations have been put into practice in the collection of normal human biospecimens for the NIH Genotype-Tissue Expression Program (GTEx), a pilot study of human gene expression and regulation in multiple tissues which will provide valuable insights into the mechanisms of gene regulation and, in the future, its disease-related perturbations (http://commonfund.nih.gov/GTEx/).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- General Medicine