Specimen Processing

Specimen Processing

Specimen processing is one of the major services we provide to support clinical research.  We accommodate special protocols to process many different types of specimens.  Typical specimen processing projects are listed below:

  • PBMC isolation (Ficoll or CPT tubes);
  • Isolation of CD4 positive cells;
  • LPS stimulation of cells;
  • Serum or plasma aliquoting;
  • Urine (adjusting pH, making aliquots, etc);
  • Bronchoalveolar lavage processing.  
  • Fecal sample processing.

We follow the protocols strictly so that variation among different processing sites can be minimized.  The lab supplies and reagents will most often come directly from the study team, and so only labor will be billed.  The study team will be responsible for tracking the expiration date of the supplies and reagents.

Sample Collection Guide

Specimen collection is of vital importance to a successful research. TCL will continue to work very closely with the CTRC Research Nursing Core to ensure that the samples are correctly collected, processed, aliquoted, labeled, stored, shipped and/or inventoried. TCL should be consulted at the stage of grant application and before subject enrollment to ensure that the samples that will eventually come to TCL for testing are of the correct sample type, have sufficient volume, and are stored in multiple aliquots. Some tests will require timely processing at a special temperature, or need to add certain chemicals to stabilize the analyte at the time of sample collection. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the PI and the research coordinator(s) have a "start-up" meeting with TCL (and the CTRC Research Nursing Core) to finalize the sample collection and processing details before the subject recruiting starts.

Sample Delivery and Submission

All samples submitted to TCL must be acocmpanied by a sample submission form and show the correct account number (complete/partial Lawson Activity Number or PO#). Sample submission form in the Excel format can be requetsed via email (TranslationalCoreLab@email.chop.edu). Frozen samples should be delicered to TCL on dry ice to avoid thawing.

For fresh samples that require same day processing (e.g., isolation of PBMCs, lymphoblast transformation, fibroblasts from biopsy, DNA extraction, biochemistry/chemistry, hematology, or certain special processing), please notify us as early as possible by email (TranslationalCoreLab@email.chop.edu) and submit samples before 1 PM. The CHOP Translational Core Laboratory is at Room 804D, Abramson Research Center (ARC) (do not confuse with Abramson Cancer Center of UPENN). TCL does not accept samples in the after-hours or weekends.

Short-Term Storage

TCL freezers are equipped with a sophisticated temperature monitoring system. In case of emergency, either in work hours or after hours, our staff will be notified; necessary steps will take place to safeguard the samples. Samples submitted to TCL for testing or processing can be stored for up to 3 months after the test/processing is done. After that the samples must be transferred to a long-term storage (PI's freezer or CHOP biorepository) or be discarded.


TCL can assist shipping of samples to the designated receiver.