Centralized Tissue-Biobank USZ

​The University Hospital of Zurich has the mission to medicate the population in an optimal way. Medical research is essential to guarantee the permanent optimization of diagnostics, therapy and patient care in the future.

Tissue samples that were surgically removed from patients for diagnostic and therapeutic reasons are an extremely important resource for studying diseases.
Formalin fixed and native deep-frozen tissue samples are collected and stored In the centralized Tissue-Biobank USZ. Corresponding pathological data are saved in a database in an enciphered form. The Tissue-Biobank is used for diagnostic enquiries, research projects as well as for clinical studies to meet the mission of the University Hospital.

The centralized Tissue-Biobank supports translational cancer research projects from the University Research Priority Program (URPP) and the Competence Center Personalized Medicine (CC-PM).

More than 200 Tissue Microarrays (TMAs) with tissue cores from 20'000 patients have been generated, the largest being TMAs of breast cancer (>3'000 samples), lung cancer (>2'000) and renal cancer (>1'000). 4'500 immunohistochemically stained TMAs have been electronically archived. In addition, about 16'000 tissue samples from >9'000 patients are stored deep-frozen in the Tissue-Biobank. 75 authenticated tumor cell lines and 50 primary tumor cell cultures are also available.
Requirements for tissue samples and service



Patient Information and Informed Consent

Patient Information and Informed Consent

Patients have to be informed about the storage and usage of biologic material and data for biomedical research at the University Hospital as well as about patient rights.

By signing the consent form the patient agrees that his/her tissue sample(s) are stored in the Tissue-Biobank and that the samples together with the data may be used for future research projects.

Information and informed consent (PDF german)

Laws, Regulation and Ethics

Laws, Regulation and Ethics

The patient law of the Canton Zurich and the regulations described in the federal act about human research are valid for the research with tissue samples and patient data stored in the Tissue-Biobank.

A regulation was compiled defining the main issues to run a Tissue-Biobank (personnel, structure, quality assurance system, guarantee of data protection, protection of personal rights).

According to the legal requirements every research project requesting tissue samples and patient data from the Tissue-Biobank has to be approved by the cantonal ethics committee Zurich.

Quality Management

Quality Management

As part of the Institute of Surgical Pathology the Tissue-Biobank is also accredited (Certificate). Standardization of the processes concerning the handling of human tissue is a prerequisite for the quality assessment of the Tissue-Biobank.

The quality management of the Tissue-Biobank comprises three main processes:

Production of Tissue and Cell Microarrays (TMAs and CMAs)

Molecular disease processes are mostly studied using cell line and animal models. Numerous human tissues are necessary to translate and to use the findings for clinical applications. The analysis of tissue samples on tissue microarrays and the link to pathological and clinical data enables the rapid identification of potential disease-related biomarkers. This will help to optimize diagnostic and therapeutic options.

In addition to TMAs, cell blocks from cell cultures can also be used for generating CMAs. Combinations of biobanked matched pairs of cell culture and tumor tissue material with clinical follow-up data can be designed for testing and validating laboratory findings. Furthermore, CMAs are also ideally suited for testing antibodies by immunohistochemistry, which avoids wasting valuable tissue material.

Collection and storage of frozen tissue samples and primary tumor cell cultures

As formalin chemically modifies and degrades nucleic acids, the possibilities for analyzing DNA and RNA are quite limited. It is therefore important to store tissue samples unfixed and frozen. The molecular structure of DNA, RNA and also proteins remains preserved which is a prerequisite for accurate molecular analyses. In the Tissue-Biobank tissue samples are stored deep frozen which have fulfilled certain quality criteria (f.e. morphology, size of the biopsy, percentage of tumor cells), thus meeting high quality demands for tissue samples used in future research projects.

Protocols have been established for most cell cultures deriving from primary tumors. Early passage cell cultures will be archived from samples to allow for the investigation of tumor heterogeneity (i.e. infiltrating lymphocytes, tumor associated fibroblasts) and tumor response.

Delivery of tissue samples

The documentation of tissue samples and tissue microarrays is an important prerequisite for their use for research purposes. The delivery of tissue samples and linked data follows a standardized process which considers scientific, legal and ethical aspects.

Application form for tissue samples and service features 



PD Dr. phil II Peter Schraml
Phone +41 44 255 2114

Laboratory Head:
Ms Susanne Dettwiler
Phone +41 44 255 2735

Laboratory technician:
Fabiola Prutek
Phone +41 44 255 2735

Peggy Tzscheetzsch
Phone +41 44 255 2532

Christiane Mittmann
Phone +41 44 255 5175

Technical associate:
Edward Kenneth Fritz

Steering Committee:
Prof. Holger Moch, MD
Prof. Gregor Zünd, MD

University Hospital Zurich
Institute of Pathology and Molecular Pathology
PD Dr. Peter Schraml
Rämistrasse 100
8091 Zürich



Ruf M, Mittmann C, Nowicka AM, Hartmann A, Hermanns T, Poyet C, van den Broek M, Sulser T, Moch H, Schraml P (2015)
pVHL/HIF-regulated CD70 expression is associated with infiltration of CD27+ lymphocytes and increased serum levels of soluble CD27 in clear cell renal cell carcinoma.
Clin Cancer Res 21(4): 889-98.

Pflueger D, Mittmann C, Dehler S, Rubin MA, Moch H, Schraml P (2015)
Functional characterization of BC039389-GATM and KLK4-KRSP1 chimeric read-through transcripts which are up-regulated in renal cell cancer.
BMC genomics 16: 247.

Dannenmann SR, Thielicke J, Stockli M, Matter C, von Boehmer L, Cecconi V, Hermanns T, Hefermehl L, Schraml P, Moch H, Knuth A, van den Broek M (2013)
Tumor-associated macrophages subvert T-cell function and correlate with reduced survival in clear cell renal cell carcinoma.
Oncoimmunology 2(3): e23562.

Casagrande S, Ruf M, Rechsteiner M, Morra L, Brun-Schmid S, von Teichman A, Krek W, Schraml P, Moch H (2013)
The protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor type J is regulated by the pVHL-HIF axis in clear cell renal cell carcinoma.
The Journal of Pathology 229(4): 525-34.

von Teichman A, Storz M, Dettwiler S, Moch H, Schraml P (2012)
Whole genome and transcriptome amplification: practicable tools for sustainable tissue biobanking?
Virchows Archiv 461(5): 571-80.

Theurillat JP, Metzler SC, Henzi N, Djouder N, Helbling M, Zimmermann AK, Jacob F, Soltermann A, Caduff R, Heinzelmann-Schwarz V, Moch H, Krek W (2011)
URI Is an Oncogene Amplified in Ovarian Cancer Cells and Is Required for Their Survival.
Cancer Cell 19(3): 317-32.

Dahinden C, Ingold B, Wild P, Boysen G, Luu VD, Montani M, Kristiansen G, Sulser T, Buhlmann P, Moch H, Schraml P (2010)
Mining tissue microarray data to uncover combinations of biomarker expression patterns that improve intermediate staging and grading of clear cell renal cell cancer.
Clin Cancer Res 16(1): 88-98.

Haybaeck J, Zeller N, Wolf MJ, Weber A, Wagner U, Kurrer MO, Bremer J, Iezzi G, Graf R, Clavien PA, Thimme R, Blum H, Nedospasov SA, Zatloukal K, Ramzan M, Ciesek S, Pietschmann T, Marche PN, Karin M, Kopf M, Browning JL, Aguzzi A, Heikenwalder M (2009)
A lymphotoxin-driven pathway to hepatocellular carcinoma.
Cancer Cell 16(4): 295-308.

Steu S, Baucamp M, von Dach G, Bawohl M, Dettwiler S, Storz M, Moch H, Schraml P (2008)
A procedure for tissue freezing and processing applicable to both intra-operative frozen section diagnosis and tissue banking in surgical pathology.
Virchows Arch 452(3): 305-12.

Storz M, Moch H (2008)
Tissue Microarrays and Biomarker Validation.
In Molecular Genetic Pathology: 133-140.

Schraml P (2006)
Tissue banks for molecular diagnostics.
Ther Umsch 63(4): 267-71.

Additional links

ISBER http://www.isber.org/
Biobank Suisse http://www.swissbiobanking.ch/
BBMRI http://www.bbmri.eu/
TuBaFrost http://www.tubafrost.org/
ISBER Guidelines http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/bio.2012.1022
NCI http://biospecimens.cancer.gov/programs/cahub/default.asp

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