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Last Updated: 04/02/18

FAQs & Funding Opportunities

FAQs (for additional frequently asked questions, please see the Navigator FAQs)

What types of NCTN specimen sets are potentially appropriate for exploratory purposes?

Although the NCTN-CCSC gives highest priority to validation studies, exceptions may be made. Please see the Expanded Evaluation Guidelines for a description of conditions under which proposals for exploratory uses of NCTN specimens might be acceptable.

What are other/alternative specimen resources for exploratory studies?

NCI-supported specimen collections that may be more appropriate to exploratory studies may be found via the following programs:

NCI Specimen Resource Locator

Cooperative Human Tissue Network (CHTN)

NCI Cancer Diagnosis Program: Finding Human Biospecimens for Research

Questions regarding appropriateness of a proposal hypothesis can be directed to the NCTN-CCSC Administrative team at NCINCTN-CCSC@MAIL.NIH.GOV.

What specimens might be in demand from many investigators?

Typically, specimens may be more “in demand” if they were collected in a randomized phase 3 trial that had a positive outcome in their primary endpoint.

What are hallmarks of a good proposal seeking use of NCTN specimens?

  • A completed proposal with all items addressed. If a gene signature will be studied, the genes included in the signature must be named.
  • The proposal makes clear why that particular clinical trial’s specimens are needed, and it is apparent that the investigators understand the trial.
  • A complete statistical section, written by (or with support from) a statistician. The statistical analyses proposed should align with the hypotheses proposed and cutpoints, if used, should be identified and supported with data. A statistician must be listed in the co-investigators section, and a letter of support provided from him/her.
  • Specimens from a positive randomized phase 3 trial should be used for validating a locked down assay(s) and cut-points. Specimens from such trials will rarely be considered for exploratory use. For a description of conditions under which proposals for exploratory uses of NCTN specimens might be acceptable, please see the Expanded Evaluation Guidelines.

When I finish my specimen study, can I send any remaining samples or extracted nucleic acid back to the bank?

No. Specimens that are removed from the bank cannot be returned.

Can I isolate my own RNA or DNA or do I have to have the Bank do it?

The NCTN Group bank must do the isolations. Use of specific protocols can be negotiated with the bank. This is done to maximize availability and use of the samples, and to maintain quality control.

Funding opportunities:

Breast cancer studies: Investigators with NCTN-CCSC-approved correlative proposals in breast cancer may contact Dr. Daniel F. Hayes at to learn more about a funding opportunity.

NIH funding opportunities