Breast Program Tissue Core


Laura J. van 't Veer, PhD


The Breast Program Tissue Core is responsible for identifying women diagnosed with breast cancer at the University. Tissue is collected prospectively at the time of surgery and banked as fresh-frozen cassettes or formalin-fixed blocks. Fresh tissues for establishing primary cell cultures and/or xenografts are also collected. The Core identifies archival formalin blocks for studies and coordinates with other tumor banks to obtain additional material for investigators. The Core offers DNA extraction for studies and coordinates preparation of tissue microarray blocks. Tissues are reviewed by Core pathologists for histopathologic features for research projects.

Requests for tissue and clinical data are approved by a Tissue & Data Utilization Committee, which reviews requests for project feasibility and priorities. In addition to collecting baseline data on women with newly diagnosed breast cancer, clinical data annotation and vital status of patients are available for collected specimens via the Northern California Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program and the UCSF Cancer Registry.

Resources & Services
The Breast Tissue Core is available to work with individual researchers within the San Francisco Bay Area breast cancer research community and provides support for experiment and tissue array design, histology review, interpretation of sections for microdissection (on the cryostat or by LCM). Core personnel act as a liaison between the cancer center Tissue and Immunohistochemistry Cores to assure that investigator needs are met with a quality and a timely response.

Epidemiologic, clinical, and outcome information has been collected for women diagnosed with breast cancer at UCSF, CPMC and SFGH. Records of 4,712 women diagnosed with breast cancer at CPMC or UCSF between January 1986 and June 2006 and their risk factor and initial breast cancer treatment information have been entered into the Breast Oncology Program database. Tissue available for research according to disease status is shown here.

The Core has laboratories in both the Mt. Zion Cancer Research Center and in the Mt. Zion Hospital Laboratory.

Major equipment for the Core is shared with the cancer center Tissue and IHC Core and includes microtomes, a cryostat, single and dual-head microscopes, a tissue microarrayer (Beecher Instruments), a multiple-slide stainer (Leica), a tissue processor (Leica), and a paraffin embedding station. Biological safety hoods for preparation of fresh tissues are available and used routinely for tissue and bodyfluid processing.

Tissue Distribution Protocol
All requests for tissue are reviewed by the Tissue Utilization Committee for feasibility, appropriate use of tissue, and priority.

If you are also requesting outcomes data, please refer to the Outcome Core questionnaires and the California Cancer Registry web address listed below to specify variables for your study.

Priority of tissue use is as follows:

  1. Breast Oncology Program Members
  2. Other UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center Members
  3. Other UCSF investigators
  4. Non-UCSF academic investigators
  5. Private, non-academic companies

Tissue distribution to private companies and academic institutions outside of UCSF require an approved Material Transfer Agreement. Investigators outside UCSF are strongly encouraged to collaborate with a member of the UCSF Breast Oncology Program. IRB approval is required for all tissue use.

Investigators using tissues of the Breast Program Tissue Core are expected to submit a timely report on tissue use and quality. All publications resulting from tissue use must acknowledge the UCSF Breast Program Tissue Core. We request that researchers consider sharing of authorship with appropriate Core individuals, and (according to emerging NIH guidelines) we expect that data will be made available to the community after a project is finished