The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Biospecimen Laboratory collects tumor tissue samples to aid scientists in their cancer research. These samples help scientists understand the biology of cancer and, in turn, develop innovative ways to diagnose and treat cancer.

The Biospecimen Lab acquires, processes and stores large numbers of high-quality and well-annotated tissue specimens. This includes malignant, diseased and normal fresh human tissues and blood. 

Goals & Accomplishments

The ongoing goal of the Biospecimen Lab is to assist scientists in the fight against cancer. Since 2009, the lab has collected over 28,000 specimens from over 5,500 consented participants. Specimens include tumor tissues, adjacent normal tissues, cells, plasma, peritoneal fluids, bone marrows and more. 

These samples have had a clear, impactful benefit to scientists pursuing better outcomes for cancer patients. Each sample is invaluable in providing key data used to develop innovations in cancer care. The Biospecimen Lab has supported 15 separate cancer research projects with specimens, resulting in more than 18 publications.


Recently, the Biospecimen Lab was awarded a grant by the Loma Linda University School of Medicine (GCAT 2016-2018). The grant promotes collaborative and translational research that enhances partnerships between clinical and basic scientists.

The Biospecimen Lab was also awarded two GCAT awards in 2011.

Resources for Researchers

The Biospecimen Lab provides institutional review board-approved investigators access to optimally preserved tissues linked to relevant demographic and clinical data. The lab has developed standard operating procedures to reduce variability around biospecimen collection and storage.

The lab provides other resources to investigators as well:

  • Support and training for fellows in the oncology and hematology fellowship program as part of that program’s research requirement
  • A research facility for scientists who need research space for their work
  • Use of the OpenSpecimen database

OpenSpecimen Database

The Biospecimen Lab uses OpenSpecimen to enter and retrieve data on biospecimen collection, storage, quality assurance and distribution. The OpenSpecimen database collects high-quality, standards-based data specific to a cancer or set of study requirements.

This data is key not only to innovations in cancer care, but also to current cancer diagnosis techniques. OpenSpecimen interfaces with the surgical pathology clinical database in LLU’s Department of Pathology and Human Anatomy to provide optimal and accurate pathological diagnosis.

Requesting Access to Samples

Researchers interested in using Biospecimen Lab samples should email Dr. Saied Mirshahidi requesting access.

Once you have access, complete the Biospecimen Laboratory Tissue Request form (PDF) to request specimens for research studies.

Wide Collaboration

The samples collected by the Biospecimen Lab provide opportunities for healthcare innovations in many fields. These departments collaborate with the lab by aiding in sample collection:

  • Surgical oncology
  • Gynecologic oncology
  • Orthopedic oncology
  • Medical oncology
  • Thoracic surgical oncology
  • Head and neck oncology
  • Urologic oncology
  • Pediatric oncology
  • Neurosurgical oncology

The VA Loma Linda Healthcare System is also a collection site.

Facility Details

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Biospecimen Laboratory is located on the first floor of the Chan Shun Pavilion.

  • 1200 square feet
  • Biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) laboratory
  • Five benches
  • Tissue culture room
  • Freezer room
  • Chemical compounds room

I’m a patient — should I donate my tissue?

As a patient, you can help the fight against cancer by donating tissue. Watch the Donating Your Tissue for Research NCI video to learn more about why donating tissue is so important. 

Patient Confidentiality

All samples are identified by control numbers to protect patient confidentiality. Samples are also collected, prepared, preserved, stored and distributed according to established protocols from cancer patients. View the Biospecimen Laboratory Consent Form (PDF) for more info.