Innovative Biospecimen Science Technologies for Cancer Research

View the related funding opportunities.

Objectives and Scope

Sample preparation methods and technologies may be developed for sample collection, processing, isolation, storage, purification, preservation, and, in the case of stored tissues, reversal of adverse events resulting from storage and preservation. Methods may be for preparation of molecules, fluids, tissues, or any other samples necessary for cancer research. Researchers may propose to develop methods to isolate cells or sub-cellular components, such as classes of molecules, organelles, or sub-cellular structures. They may propose to isolate specific classes of molecules, such as membrane-bound proteins. They may also propose studies to quantitatively assess the effects of collecting, processing, and storage on molecular components of interest in stored specimens. The goal is to develop products and methodologies that maximize the quality and utility of samples for research and, in the case of human specimens, maximize the quality of the samples for research and clinical needs without compromising patient care.

Sample preparation methods may impact the results or interpretation of biological studies. Investigators may apply different methods of sample preparation using the same measurement technology. In many cases of measuring biological response, no “gold standard” exists by which to compare research results obtained from the different sample preparation methods. There is a need for methods to assess the quality of samples prepared using different methodologies. These RFAs will support methods to assess sample quality and studies that elucidate the criteria needed to judge sample quality under different conditions. These RFAs will also support the development of technologies to make these assessments, such as the development of sample reference materials that can be used to calibrate the effectiveness of new fixatives or new detection methodologies.

It is expected that many investigators who developed successful cancer sample preparation techniques under previous IMAT initiatives will propose projects for these RFAs . However, these RFAs are not limited to techniques developed under the IMAT Program. Investigators are encouraged to use any sample preparation methodologies or techniques relevant to cancer.

For all projects proposed, it will be important to substantiate the ultimate value of the innovation for analyzing samples, optimizing analysis, and/or evaluating sample quality for the purpose of research and eventually clinical applications. Also of importance is the potential for ultimately transferring knowledge, technologies, and/or methodologies to other laboratories or the clinic. In the case of technologies intended for use on clinical specimens or in patients, applications from or collaborations with investigators involved in the clinical research of cancer are encouraged.