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Sample collection


Experts in the field of reproductive medicine have produced sample collection standard operative procedures, that are used by the Tommy’s National Reproductive Health Biobank to ensure the collection of samples of high quality by following best practise.

The biobank can collect samples across the 6 tissue collection centres, either, fresh, frozen or embedded in paraffin (Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded)

These samples will be obtained from non-pregnant women and women who have had pregnancy complications including miscarriage, intrauterine death, preterm birth and pre-eclampsia.

The biobank can also collect samples from babies who are up to one week old, and fathers. 


Biological samples that are taken for diagnosis, but not completely used can now be used for research under the ethics gained by the Tommy’s Biobank. This means that samples left over after diagnosis can be requested for research purposes. Please contact us for more information.


The Tommys National Reproductive Health Biobank also offers additional services. Immunohistochemistry, histology, microtomy, cryosectioning, nucleic acid extraction and Quality Control .

Project specific costings can be provided for grant applications. Please enquire by email.





Exsisting collections


INSIGHT: Investigation into Biomarkers to Predict Spontaneous Preterm Birth

A prospective cohort study to determine the biological mechanisms underlying cervical shortening and spontaneous preterm birth and identify novel biomarkers which could identify women at high risk for pre-term birth early in their pregnancy.

Co-sponsors Kings College London/Guys and St Thomas’ NHS  Foundation Trust
Chief Investigator and Study Academic PI    Professor Andrew Shennan, Professor Rachel Tribe,
Research Ethics number 13/LO/0393

This cohort has been running since 2014 and has a large (>2000) biorepository and associated data from low risk women and women attending a high risk ‘Spontaneous Preterm Birth Surveillance Clinics’

Samples include cervico-vaginal fluid and microbiology swabs, plasma and serum. Samples collected between 10-24 weeks of pregnancy. More recently, the study has expanded to collect samples and placenta atdelivery and additional samples such as hair.

Requests for samples/data should be directed to

Understanding the mechanisms controlling human uterine muscle function  

This study has been running for many years and there is a large biobank of myometrium (snap frozen, for protein and mRNA analysis). In addition this study has been renewed under a new ethics approval and now co-consents for the Tommy’s reproductive health Biobank (details below)

Title of study Understanding the mechanisms controlling human uterine muscle function
Short title Myometrium Study
Sponsor King’s College London (KCL) and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
Chief Investigator Professor Rachel M Tribe
IRAS number 252837
Medical condition under investigation Physiology of myometrium contraction, non-pregnant and pregnant women. Preterm labour, dysfunctional labour, post dates and menstrual conditions.
Primary objective To understand the physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms (i.e. cellular, biochemical, molecular, genetic and hormonal) controlling uterine contraction and quiescence.
Secondary objectives To understand how pharmaceutical compounds and other external factors may alter uterine function.
Study design A lab-based study using human tissue.
End points 31/12/2023
Sample size 1500
Eligibility criteria

Any women undergoing hysterectomy or caesarean section, willing and able to give informed consent


Exclusion criteria

Unwilling or unable to give informed consent

Under 18 years of age

HIV positive

Hepatitis B and C

Severe anterior placenta previa

Haemostatic disease


Version and date of Protocol amendments

Version 1.0

Date: 07/10/2019

 Imperial College London- Recurrent Miscarriage biobank

Vaginal and oral microbiological swabs, plasma, urine with serial ultra sound and pregnancy outcome data

Kings College London – Preterm Labour biobank

Longitudinal sample collection with detailed clinical phenotyping from 1500 women (low and high risk pregnancies >100,000 sample aliquots). It includes samples from high-risk women taken prior to and after prophylactic interventions to prevent preterm birth. High-risk women provide cervico-vaginal fluid, endocervical (cytobrush samples) and vaginal cell pellets, swabs slides doe microbiology analysis and gram stain, serum, plasm and buffy coasts for DNA extraction on four occasions in pregnancy with clinical measurements of cervical length and quantitative fetal fibronectin; low risk women provide similar samples.

Saliva samples from ~1025 high risk women and ongoing collection of myometrium samples ( >2000 with clinical data).

200 neonatal brain tissue samples, mostly blocks, slides, and a smaller number of frozen samples

Samples available from patients with obesity and gestational diabetes, and hypertension disorders include; placenta (100) and DNA from 1000 obese women and their infants (600), > 500 pre-eclampsia plasma samples with extensive pregnancy and child follow up data.

Edinburgh Reproductive Tissue Bank

100,000 samples- This collection is largely from the end of pregnancy / labour and associated pathologies including preterm birth, pre-eclampsia, and the adverse outcomes of obesity (maternal bloods, placenta, membranes, cord, cord blood, myometrium, and adipose tissue).

There is also a serial set of samples from a cohort of obese pregnant women through pregnancy and in to the post-partum period, clinical data also available.

Blood and tissue samples from a number of studies on the effects of obesity in pregnancy and blood samples from twins.

Various tissue and blood samples obtained from the Karolinska Institute, including sample from fathers. In addition, there is expression array and methylation array data available this can be linked to ERTBB for further data mining

Manchester and Fetal Health Research Centre Biobank,

 400 sample sets (maternal, fetal blood, placenta) with pregnancy and outcome data per annum.

Third trimester pregnancy material from normal and abnormal pregnancies. This includes maternal myometrium, omentum, and blood along with placental and fetal blood (400 samples sets/annum).

Smaller number of samples collected from reproductive medicine and first trimester termination specimens.