Resource: Human Postmortem Tissue Core

Multicenter Human Postmortem Tissue Core 

The Postmortem Tissue Core integrates five geographically distributed academic ALS centers with expertise in ALS and postmortem tissue banking. The core is led and administered by:

  • Lyle Ostrow, M.D., Ph.D. Core Director (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Kathleen Wilsbach, Ph.D. Core Program Manager (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Robert Bowser, Ph.D.  (Barrows Neurological Institute)
  • Matthew Harms, M.D. and Neil Shneider, M.D., Ph.D.  (Columbia University)
  • Brent Harris, M.D., Ph.D.  (Georgetown University)
  • John Ravits, M.D., Ph.D.  (University of California, San Diego)
  • Cindy Ly, M.D., Ph.D. (Washington University, St. Louis)

We have defined standard operating procedures for tissue acquisition and dissection, processing, storage, histopathological characterization and QC analysis, all specifically optimized for ALS research.

Tissue inventories from our multiple core sites and the corresponding de-identified clinical metadata are linked using platforms developed by the Center for Innovation & Bioinformatics.

A web-based searchable database of the postmortem tissue inventory provides estimates of fixed and frozen postmortem tissues available that meet basic demographic criteria. A short PM Core Search Manual explains how to use the web-based inventory search.

More detailed case characteristics and tissue regions can be requested using the Target ALS PM Core Request Form. The Target ALS PM Core Request Form includes detailed instructions for requesting samples from the Core.

Researchers using samples and data from Resource Cores retain full ownership of their ideas and results, without authorship requirements or intellectual property concerns. 

Please direct any questions to the Core Director Dr. Lyle W. Ostrow.

Process and Timeline for Obtaining Samples for Research

  • Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis within two weeks of receipt, using established criteria that emphasize experimental feasibility and appropriateness of sample sizes and quantities.
  • After initial review, a direct phone call is scheduled with the Core Director to address any questions or concerns, after which the best samples to suit your needs will be identified across our Core sites.
  • If your assays/staining procedures have not been validated on human CNS tissues, we will arrange to send a blinded test sample set first to help with assay development.
  • Once the samples have been identified, MTAs with standardized language will be provided for each Core Site that will be sending tissue. Separate MTA language for academic/non-profit and industry/for-profit requests has been standardized and pre-approved by each Core Site. These MTAs can be provided upon request at any time. The local Site Coordinators will prepare the tissues for shipment so that they can be shipped as soon as the MTAs are executed.

Our goal is to say “yes” to every request; thus, the Core Director works closely with each researcher to help optimize experimental plans, validate assays and ensure that the researchers are always thinking about the next step— such as identifying potential biomarkers for eventual clinical trials.

For a post-doc, new investigator or established scientist with an entirely new idea, our goal is to rapidly provide the resources necessary to obtain at least preliminary results (“discovery”), and then foster further development and collaboration as the idea evolves.  Often, we can facilitate collaborations with established labs already using our Cores or invoke other existing Core Resources to provide complimentary data and results. New ideas can be tested rigorously within weeks, rather than the months-to-years that would normally be needed to apply for grants, get funded, establish lab assays locally and conduct preliminary experiments.