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UCLA Pathology & Laboratory Medicine


Brain Tissue Translational Resource | BTTR

William H. Yong, MD
BTTR Director

Contact Information

William Yong, MD, BTTR Director
Phone: (310) 825-8269 | Email

Day-to-day technical contacts:

Greg Lucey
Phone: (310) 794-6769| Email

Matt Bowen Wei
Phone: (310) 794-6769 | Email


The Brain Tumor Translational Resource (BTTR) is a biorepository and resource that supports brain tumor research at UCLA, other academic centers, brain tumor consortia, and industry. It is committed to to providing its researchers and physicians with tangible brain tumor resources they may draw upon to complete their research.  The BTTR provides researchers access to de-identified clinical resources and tissue on consented patients who have been diagnosed with a Primary Adult Brain Tumor.  These bio-specimen resources can include blood, cell culture, stained and un-stained slides, paraffin tumor blocks, frozen tissue, DNA and RNA.  Our goal is to facilitate the research that aids in the diagnosis and treatment of brain cancer.  . 

Biospecimen Collection and Disbursement

How does collecting tumors work? In the operating rooms at UCLA, neurosurgeons may resect tumor and provide it to the neuropathologists to evaluate. If appropriate, blood and urine may be collected at the start of surgery. Once it has been established that there is sufficient tumor for pathologic diagnosis, tumor tissues are collected from the operating room and kept on ice till it can be processed which is as rapidly as possible. Depending on the protocol for a case, tissue may be stored in RNA stabilizers, frozen down in liquid nitrogen, cultured under standard or stem cell conditions, or fixed in formalin. Fresh tumor tissue may be directly disbursed to researchers if the patient has consented and their IRB protocols permit it. Tissue fixed in formalin undergoes additional processing to form a paraffin block, often known as formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) block. For long term storage, most materials are stored as frozen tissue or as FFPE blocks. We also receive and store patient biosamples from outside centers.

Smart use and labeling of biospecimens in your laboratory

Depending on your IRB protocol, biospecimens may be provided with different research identifiers to enable you to obtain relevant clinical or molecular data. Please keep careful track of these identifiers that we provide and maintain the link with the specimen that we give to you. It is crucial to our ability to provide you accurate molecular stratification information or survival data for example. One or two mislabeled cases can potentially skew the data on your important project. Careful labeling of biospecimens or their derivatives as you do your work is very important. Some basic principles are strongly recommended:

  1. Train all incoming personnel on appropriate labeling protocols
  2. Labeling of a specimen with the identification number should be accompanied by specification of the identifier type. The identifier types that we may provide to you include: IOIS- the neurooncology database patient research identifier; SID- the neurooncology database specimen identification number (each patient may have multiple specimens); LB- the BTTR specimen identifier; and sometimes a surgical pathology number- e.g. S09-12345. Incorrect clinical data can be incorrectly linked to the biospecimen that you are requesting data for because of confusion regarding an undesignated identifier.
  3. Store BBTR-provided biospecimen information in a centralized notebook or database not in an individual's lab book.
  4. Label derivatives using a convention known to the principle investigator of your lab and maintain a central lab database of cell lines, their names, their characteristics, and the IOIS /SID number from which derived. As researchers create cell lines or other derivatives, they may use cryptic abbreviations which may not obvious to other researchers in their lab. As students and post-docs graduate, these cryptic abbreviations may not be decipherable or the key buried in the depths of their lab notebook. We are aware of anecdotal accounts where labs have to discard cell lines because of uncertainty regarding their provenance.

How we can help you make those research advances?

If you are new to the UCLA brain tumor research community whether a principal investigator, technician, postdoc, or grad student, please contact us to discuss how we can help you. Patients of course are always very welcome to ask questions of us.

Available materials and resources

  • Planning for tissue based studies including clinical trials
  • Specialized procurement and handling of tumor and other biospecimens such as blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
  • Retrieval of FFPE blocks from the pathology archives
  • Frozen and FFPE sections for immunohistochemistry or immunofluorescence studies
  • Frozen and FFPE samples for molecular analyses
  • Use of our Qiagen Qiacube (12 samples/run) for automated DNA or RNA extraction
  • Use of our Nanodrop spectrophotometer for quantifying nucleic acid concentrations
  • Lyophilization of biomaterials
  • Immunohistochemistry staining and interpretation
  • Image analysis of whole slide images on our 30'' monitors
  • Facilitation of whole slide digital imaging and analysis through the UCLA Translational Pathology Core Resource
  • Facilitation of genome, transcriptome, and proteome analyses
  • Selection of specific areas of FFPE blocks for tissue microarrays
Training of future physicians and scientists

 The BTTR also helps to prepare future generations of physicians and scientists.  Undergraduates, lab technicians, and visiting scholars both support the mission of brain tumor research and gain valuable experience for the future.  We thank them for their dedication and hard work.  We congratulate our lab alumni who have matriculated into medical, other graduate, and residency programs.  We wish them the best of success in helping our patients and our world get better. 

Undergraduates/Lab Technicians

HZ   (MD) Duke School of Medicine
AL    (MD) U of Wisconsin School of Medicine
SL    (MD) UC Irvine School of Medicine
AK   (MD) Jefferson Medical College
RW  (PhD) UC Santa Barbara
DS  (MD) U of Washington School of Medicine
JD   (JD) Loyola Marymount Law School
LH   (MD) George Washington School of Medicine (Merit Scholarship)

Postdoctoral/Visiting Scholars

LM  Pathology Residency, UC San Diego School of Medicine
YB  Pathology Residency, UCLA School of Medicine


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