Improving access to human tissue

The most widely cited barrier preventing uptake of human tissue-based approaches is lack of access to a reliable source of tissue. However this is not considered a problem by all researchers and many consider that substantial amounts of human tissue are available in existing repositories and biobanks and from commercial sources; suggesting that a key issue is a lack of knowledge regarding what repositories exist.

There are a number of ongoing activities both in the UK and Europe to coordinate biobanking activity and provide researchers with a means to more easily identify and access collections of tissue relevant to them. The most coordinated of these is the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre, which is the UK partner in the Biobanking and BioMolecular resources Research Infrastructure – European Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMRI-ERIC). Another source of human tissue for research is the NHS Blood and Transplant service (NHS BT) which provides organs for transplant, but also supports scientists in accessing for research, organs which are not suitable for this purpose. Marketplaces for outsourced research services, such as, also offer opportunities for accessing tissue. Further details about all of these resources can be found by clicking through to the relevant buttons below.


If you have human tissue repositories accessible to researchers and would like to share these with the wider research community please let us know by contacting

We have also funded projects to increase access to human tissue for specific applications:

  • A strategic collaboration between academics and NHS BT to develop a process to provide fully ethically consented, human normal and diseased lung tissue to the UK scientific community. If successful, the approach could apply to other organs and tissues.
  • A CRACK IT Challenge to put in place a system to supply high quality and viable dorsal root ganglion neurones to researchers to facilitate drug target identification and pharmacological testing of novel pain therapeutics.