Breast Cancer Working Group Tissue Microarray

The University of Illinois Cancer Center Breast Cancer Working Group (BCWG), in collaboration with the University of Illinois Biorepository (UIB) and the UI Health Department of Pathology, is offering qualified investigators access to sections from its tissue microarray (TMA) for breast cancer research. 

The policies and procedures for accessing these tissue sections are described here. Initially, one TMA is available.

General Policies

  • Investigators requesting samples must have a primary affiliation with UIC.
  • Investigators must have UIC IRB approval or a Determination of Not Human Subjects Research for their specific research project before samples will be released. TMA annotation that excludes all HIPAA Protected Health Information (PHI) is available.
  • Prior IRB approval is not required to include TMA access in grant proposals. Approval from the BCWG TMA Review Panel is required before proposal submission.
  • Upon approval, an allotted number of 4μ thick sections on glass slides will be prepared in the Research Histology Core.  These slides will be stained in the Research Histology Core unless approved by the Review Panel for staining elsewhere. 
  • TMA paraffin blocks will not be distributed.
  • There is no charge for access to TMA sections.  However, a charge for sectioning by the Research Histology Lab will be made through iLab.  Users must have an iLab account.

Responsibilities of Principal Investigators  

Investigators accessing TMAs must agree to:

  • Not distribute TMA materials to investigators or institutions not named in the approved application.
  • Return any unused materials to the BCWG.
  • Acknowledge the BCWG and UI Biorepository in any manuscripts or conference presentations that include results from the TMAs. 
  • Agree to notify BCWG of accepted manuscripts and conference presentations.  
  • The following acknowledgement language should be used: 

The authors wish to acknowledge the Breast Cancer Working Group and Translational Pathology Shared Resource of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, and the University of Illinois Biorepository, for providing access to the tissue microarrays.

Failure to comply with these requirements could affect future access. 

Steps for Accessing TMA Sections

  1. Review the description of each TMA and determine if it is suitable for your research. If you have additional questions about a TMA, contact Maria Sverdlov ([email protected]).

  1. Submit an application (Breast Cancer Tissue Microarray Request) describing study objectives, rationale for proposed biomarker, evidence supporting staining feasibility, justification for number of TMA sections requested and IRB approval status. The link below will take you to a login screen. Use your UIC Net ID and password to sign in to complete the application. To see deidentified data for each case in the TMA selected, click on the link at the top of the request form.
Breast Cancer Tissue Microarray Request

  1. The BCWG TMA Review Panel will evaluate applications using these criteria:

– Preciousness (priority level) of the TMA

– Depletion 

– Importance of scientific objectives

– Likelihood of success in staining and analysis

– Funding source

  1. TMA blocks will be transferred to the Research Histology Core for sectioning and slide preparation when a funded project is approved. A letter of support (LOS) can be requested from Dr. Debra Tonetti ([email protected]) if the Review Panel approval is part of a grant application.

To propose a new breast cancer TMA, contact Carlos Murga-Zamalloa, MD, ([email protected]) for information about archived specimens. Maria Sverdlov ([email protected]) is the contact for TMA design and construction.

TMA Description

TMA NameUIC Subtype and Racial Diversity TMA (BCWG TMA-UIC-001)
DescriptionThis TMA includes a consecutive series of breast cancer cases undergoing surgery at UIC between 2013 to 2019. It includes cases with diverse race/ethnicity, stage and breast cancer subtype. Cases with neoadjuvant therapy were excluded.
CasesA total of 156 cases in 4 blocks. Many cases have matched normal tissue and/or lymph node metastases.
Annotation Data (no PHI)Includes: year of surgery, age at surgery, race/ethnicity, BMI, TNM stage, tumor grade, histological type, clinical IHC/FISH results (ER, PR, HER2, Ki67, p53), Oncotype DX, and outcomes (recurrence, second primary, death). Additional variables and matched biospecimens may be added in the future.
Sample SelectionTumor cores were sampled from areas of largest grade and focus by a breast pathology specialist.
ReplicatesMost tumors are arrayed in duplicate; some have cores from additional nodules. Normal breast and lymph node cores are singlicate.
CoresBlock 1: 41 cases - 145 cores (88 tumor, 41 normal, 16 LN mets)
Block 2: 39 cases - 145 cores (94 tumor, 39 normal, 12 LN mets)
Block 3: 38 cases - 145 cores (92 tumor, 38 normal, 15 LN mets)
Block 4: 38 cases - 131 cores (84 tumor, 2 normal, 15 LN mets)
Core Diameter1.0mm
Quality ControlThe initial section and every 20th section thereafter is stained with H&E to assess core depletion. Digital scans of the H&E slides are available for viewing by request.

Unstained sections are stored at 4oC each time the blocks are cut to conserve tissue. These sections are suitable for IHC staining. Please request fresh sections if your project involves phospho-specific antibodies or RNA/DNA analysis.

For more information about the TMA service, contact Maria Sverdlov ([email protected]). 

Data annotation inquiries can be directed to Sandeep Kataria, [email protected].

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