Clark H. Smith Tissue Bank

Clark H. Smith Brain Tumour Centre

Our Goals

The Clark H. Smith Tumour and Related Tissue Bank is a biorepository at the University of Calgary that was established with the goal of advancing cancer research. We assist basic, translational and clinical cancer research by collecting and providing high quality tumour and blood samples, and their derivative biomolecules, to investigators.  Specializing in neurologic and pediatric diseases, the bank has provided material to investigators not only within Calgary but also nationally and internationally.

The Clark H. Smith Tumour and Related Tissue Bank is a registered bank of CTRNet and participates in ISBER’s proficiency testing program.  The Bank is approved by the Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board of the University of Calgary.

Our Team

Critical to our Bank’s success are the ongoing efforts of our clinical champions, our many collaborators (nurses, oncologists, surgeons, and pathologists), our financial supporters, and of course our patient participants.

Materials collected by the bank originate from patients at Foothills Medical Centre and Alberta Children’s Hospital who have given their informed consent to participate in the Tumour Bank.  Most samples are collected from surgical procedures.  A smaller number of samples originate from autopsies. Although our main focus is nervous system and pediatric diseases, we accept samples from all organ systems and variety of disease processes. 

Types of materials collected include tissue, blood, urine, bone marrow, and cerebral spinal fluid, depending on the type of diagnosis. 

Blood and urine are collected pre-operatively when possible. Blood is processed into serum, plasma, buffy coat, red cells, and DNA. 

Tissues are collected at the time of surgery, after initial evaluation by a pathologist.  Only tissues that are in excess of what is needed for diagnosis are collected by the Bank.  These tissue samples are divided into several portions and allocated for processing as fresh frozen tissue and formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissue. Some samples are cultured (see below). Derivatives routinely prepared and stored by the Bank also include DNA/RNA from the tissue. 

Tissue samples stored by the Bank undergo histologic quality control by a board-certified pathologist to verify diagnosis and tissue quality.  Derivative biomolecules undergo quantitation and molecular quality control. 

The Bank has expertise in culturing cells from brain tumours. At the time of initial receipt of the fresh tissue, selected samples are immediately cultured. We have established several cell lines from both common and rare brain tumour types.   This ‘living tissue bank’ is a source for reagents that are available to investigators on a collaborative basis. We also work closely with the Brain Tumour Stem Cell Core, headed by Drs. Samuel Weiss and Gregory Cairncross to provide tumour samples for the core.

Basic diagnostic and demographic information is available for all samples.  More detailed clinical annotation is available by special arrangement to qualified investigators.  All information provided by the bank to investigators is kept confidential.

Types of samples available:

  • Pilocytic Astrocytoma
  • Diffuse Astrocytoma
  • Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)
  • Glioblastoma
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Oligoastrocytoma
  • Ganglioglioma
  • Ependymoma
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Atypical Teratoid Rhaboid Tumour (ATRT)
  • Choroid Plexus Papilloma/Carcinoma
  • Meningioma
  • Neurocytoma
  • Schwannoma
  • CNS lymphoma
  • Hemangiopericytoma
  • Hemangioblastoma
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Germ cell tumor
  • Metastases to brain
  • Melanoma
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma

Sample requests are made by completing a Tissue Request Form (available from  Required supporting documents are a brief summary of the project, justification for materials requested, ethics application and approval for project, and biohazard approval.  Requests are reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee of clinicians and scientists for approval.

For more information, please contact Dr. Jennifer Chan or Colleen Anderson at

Clark H. Smith Tumour and Tissue Bank

University of Calgary
Health Research Innovation Centre, room 2A25
3330 Hospital Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta  T2N 4N1
Phone:  403-210-6423

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