Karolinska Healthcare Research Biobank (KHRBB)

High-impact research in cancer biology, translational medicine and drug discovery requires access to collections of high quality tumor and normal tissues, access to state-of-the-art instruments and expert pathology/molecular biology knowledge. The KHRBB fresh-frozen human tumor tissue collection is a centrally managed, prospective tissue collection in the Stockholm region and is ideal for biomics profiling studies. 

The KHRBB facilities and staff manage approximately 20 000 clinically evaluated fresh-frozen tumor tissues, including specimens from all major organs such as breast, prostate, endocrine organs, colon, brain, lung, etc. In addition, the KHRBB can assist in the retrieval of frozen samples and the corresponding pathology archived formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) and blood samples.

The KHRBB under the directorship of Professor/Senior Consultant Monica Nistér implements good clinical biobanking procedures to ensure tissue collection service of quality frozen specimens. This service is available to all departments in the Karolinska University Hospital with ethical permission to collect tissue and Biobank Karolinska approval. To improve scientific competitiveness in research on human tissues, the KHRBB also provides research facilities and services at competitive rates.


In 2010 the KI/SLL and FoUU leadership took the decision to upgrade the tissue biobank that existed in Clinical Pathology/ Cytology and develop it into a central, prospective and project-based tissue research biobank core facility at the Karolinska Univerisity Hospital/SLL.

KHRBB operations

The KHRBB was awarded the authority to implement an effective central research biobank within the Karolinska University Hospital/SLL to offer sample management services for fresh-frozen patient tumor and normal tissues including sample collection, registration, storage, retrieval, de-identification, and distribution, and to establish a facility providing research equipment and services.

KHRBB Personnel


KHRBB Responsible scientist: Professor/Senior Medical Consultant Monica Nistér MD, PhD. Professor Nistér is a leading voice in cancer research particularly in glioma biology. With extensive experience in histology, genetics, molecular biology and cancer biology and over 100 peer-reviewed articles, Professor Nistér heads the KHRBB team and is responsible for the functioning of the facility.

Dr James Thompson the research facility coordinator is responsible for the daily running of the research unit and main contact person for those who wish to use the facilities or services.

Research laboratories

The KHRBB facilities are located at Clinical Pathology/Cytology at both the Solna and Huddinge Karolinska University Hospital sites. Clinical operations at both sites include, sample reception, sample cutting, sample freezing and storage. The research facility is currently located at Karolinska Solna.

The KHRBB research laboratories are currently undergoing infrastructure building. The first aim of the research laboratories and research services is to maximize the research potential of limited amounts of material in accordance to Swedish biobanking law. This is achieved by equipping the laboratories with versatile, state-of-art equipment such as a Leica laser microdissecting microscope and an Alpheys tissue microarray puncher and by providing full or partial research services at competitive prices. The KHRBB research facility provides the essential staff and facilities for effective studies driven by individual research needs.

  • Tissue DNA/RNA extraction/PCR-set up
  • Fresh & embedded tissue processing and sectioning
  • Advanced laser microdissectioning microscopy laboratory
  • PCR/post-PCR lab
  • Cell culture facility for primary cells including stem cells
  • Preparation and freezing of live cells
  • Office space and ICT for visiting personnel

KHRBB Access rules for equipment

Before any KHRBB instruments can be used, all persons must have their principal investigator sign a KHRBB service agreement. You will then get basic training for the instruments they wish to use from the facility manager. Only upon completion of training will you get permission to reserve the equipment using the online booking system.

KHRBB Service Agreement

General rules

You have to start your booked session within 30 minutes or leave a note at the instrument stating when you will start your session in case you are delayed. If a piece of equipment is not being used 30 minutes after the booking started, others are free to use the equipment instead during the booked time. If you cannot use your time please cancel your booking via the electronic system so that you will not be charged.

You are not allowed to transfer your data from any piece of KHRBB equipment with your own flash drive, please contact facility manager for assistance. Regular maintenance of equipment computers will cause data to be frequently removed, therefore it is important to immediately transfer your data. The persons who are responsible for the equipment are authorized to delete files that are older than 2 weeks if this is required to keep the system operative. In case you want to use an external hard disk to transfer your data please ensure that it has been checked for viruses.

For further information please contact: elisa.basmaci@ki.se

KHRBB Equipment

The KHRBB research facilities on the 1st floor of building Z5 provide users with the following instruments that are currently installed and operational. Researchers wanting to use the KHRBB instruments will be provided all the necessary training from facility staff.

Equipment user guides

Agilent Bioanalyzer
Alpheys Minicore 3 Tissue Microarray (TMA) instrument
Brady BP-PR600 PLUS industrial high throughput label maker
Diagenode Bioruptor Next Gen UCD-300 sonication system
Leica LMD 7000 laser microdissection microscope (LMD)
Thermo microtome with section transfer station & Thermo cryostat
Qiagen QIAcube for DNA, RNA and protein purification
Thermo Scientific NanoDrop 2000


KHRBB Sample deposit and access

Using the KHRBB service is efficient and cost effective.

The KHRBB tissue collection facilities and staff are located at the histopathology laboratory of Clinical Pathology/Cytology. After routine examination of a fresh diagnostic sample, the pathologist reviewing the tissue can remove a representative piece of surplus material for biobanking, if the patient has given consent. Our skilled staff efficiently process the surplus material for snap freezing in liquid nitrogen or other project driven procedure. The sample is then either stored in the KHRBB secure -80°C freezers or forwarded to an active project. To initiate a collection project first contact the KHRBB to discuss project set-up. Secondly, contact Biobank Karolinska for formalities. Thirdly, once approved by all parties, contracts for service are signed and collection project begins.

When using the KHRBB to collect and store samples the service offers a cost efficient alternative to biobanking samples using your own staff and resources. An administrative cost is taken for each biobanked sample however this is merely a fraction of the actual costs if collecting tissues independently.

Sample access for depositors running a project should be straight forward. Arrangements made with the KHRBB ensure that sample access is processed in accordance to the study ethical permissions.

To help streamline our services, paper versions of all protocols required for logistics and procedures must be produced and approved by all parties. This information will ensure that all samples are processed correctly by the KHRBB in accordance with Swedish medical law and alleviate specimen handling issues.

For more information please contact Gregory Winn.

For researchers interested in accessing tissue collections, please contact Biobank Karolinska.

Sample workflow

Schematic outline of sample work flow.

KHRBB Samples collected

The KHRBB staff manage approximately 20 000 clinically evaluated fresh-frozen tumour tissues, including specimens from all major organs such as breast, prostate, endocrine organs, brain, lung, colon, etc. In addition, for quality assurance the KHRBB has access to the corresponding pathology archived formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) samples that are histopathologically well characterized and reviewed by senior consultants at Clinical Pathology/ Cytology. The current rate of sample collection (Solna and Huddinge sites):

Research services

Laser microdissecioning services

A tissue microdissection and DNA purification service for formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) or fresh-frozen specimens using a Leica LMD 7000 laser microdissection microscope (LMD).

Laser microdissecioning services

DNA and RNA services

Efficient and automated purification of genomic DNA from mammalian cells and tissues using the Qiagen QIAcube and QIAamp Mini DNA purification kit.

DNA and RNA services

Tissue, cells and storage services

FFPE and frozen sample(s) sectioned on to glass slide or membrane frame slide for LMD. Slides cut to order, no minimum or maximum.

Tissue, cells and storage services

Services in development

Services in development

Ethics and regulations

Access to high quality tissue samples leads to better medical research and healthcare

The KHRBB Biobank manages access to high quality samples, which leads to better quality research into treatments for people suffering from cancer and other diseases. Patient autonomy and integrity is fundamental to national ethical guidelines and after initial consent patients can withdraw their samples at any time by contacting Biobank Karolinska (BbK). Any samples withdrawn will be disposed of in accordance with Swedish Biobank law. Depending on when a sample is withdrawn some research may already have taken place. We will ensure no further research is carried out but already obtained data will be used. All work with patient tissues complies with Good Clinical Practice guidelines.

For the latest Biobanking guidelines and laws please click on the links regarding:

Swedish Biobank Act
Personal Data Act
Ethical Review Act


Head of unit

Professor, senior

Monica Nister

Organizational unit: Research Group Nistér, Monica
E-mail: Monica.Nister@ki.se

Pathology Division Huddinge, Eva Nilsson

Procedures and Documentation, Lena Nirelius, tel +46 (0)70 085 6604

Tissue Collection Unit Huddinge, Shila Javvi, tel: +46 (0)85 858 1043

Tissue Collection Unit Huddinge, Lena Nirelius, tel +46 (0)70 085 6604

Research Facility Coordinator Elisa Basmaci, tel: +46-8-517 705 35, mob: +46-8-625 14 99

Pathology Division Solna, Eva Loukarova

Project Coordinator and IT, Greg Winn

Tissue Collection Unit Solna Antoaneta Dencheva, Clara Motakefi, Susanne Thorell, Lisa Ånfalk, tel: +46 (0)70 085 6506

Core facility