Brain Tissue Biobank

Image credit: Full Brain Tractography. Sherbrooke Connectivity Imaging Laboratory (SCIL)

The Brain Tissue Biobank is a repository site of the central nervous system biospecimens collected at St. Michael’s Hospital (SMH). It was created as a part of the University of Toronto Brain Tissue biobanking initiative, which was made possible by the generous donation from Dr. Michael Dan. This site stores cryopreserved samples of tissue and blood along with the matched clinical data from willing-to-donate patients who had surgical treatment of CNS tumors at SMH.

While protecting patients’ confidentiality and strictly following research ethics regulations, our repository actively dispenses samples to support rapidly progressing research in the field of Neurosurgery in Canada and worldwide. Our biobank aims to support brain cancer studies from their early stages with the hope of contributing to the meaningful findings for future therapies and treatments.


Our sample repository site aims to support retrospective studies and accelerate research progress by providing access to our specimen archive. Availability of various tumour types at SMH Brain Tissue Biobank also promotes networking with other Toronto and provincial repositories that benefit from fresh and frozen samples collected at our site.

Our biorepository contains more than 15,000 tissue and whole blood samples, from over 1400 patients.

Archived tumour types include:

  • Gliomas
  • Pituitary adenomas
  • Meningiomas
  • Ependymomas
  • Schwannomas
  • Metastatic carcinomas and adenocarcinomas
  • Lymphomas

If you would like some more information about our collected samples, please contact us at

To access samples and clinical data in the SMH Brain Tumour Biobank, researchers must first consult with our staff members to discuss the suitability of the proposed research project. If interested in collaboration, please contact us at to arrange a consultation.

If the project is suitable, it will be discussed by the Biobank Governance Committee, who may ask for clarification or an amendment to the proposed project. Interested investigators should provide information including a brief outline of the project and study objectives, required diagnosis and sample type, number of required samples, and information regarding project funding.


Samples can only be transferred to investigators with the protocols approved by REB or ethics board of their institution. Internal collaborators, please contact the Unity Health REB office for information about the REB application process. A completed contract must also be in place prior to the distribution of samples and/or clinical data. External collaborators should contact their institutional ethics board for more detailed information on application requirements. Please contact the Unity Health Research Contracts office for further information.


To initiate a sample request with the Brain Tissue Biobank, use the link below to download and fill out Sample Request Form, and email it to

Brain Tissue Biobank Sample Request Form


Please have the following attached in your email for the request to be considered:

  • Filled-in request form with the study abstract
  • Processed ethics board approval of the study or an email from the ethics board as a confirmation of the pending approval


Received documents will be forwarded to the Governance Committee for approval. If approval is granted, all documentation will be sent to the Unity Health Contracts Department for data/sample sharing contract initiation.

The Governance Committee may request additional documents if needed or deny your request if the ethics board requirements are not met. In both cases, you will be informed by the Brain Tissue Biobank staff.



Our Biobank program is a not-for-profit research resource that is supported by research funding. We ask for fees to access our services and samples to attempt to cover some of our operational costs. Investigators from Unity Health can benefit from subsidized fees so we can support our researchers. 


All internal, external and industry collaborators, kindly contact us for the information on sample access fees at

All future collaborators and potential participants, please refer to the following list of peer-reviewed publications that used samples collected and dispensed by our biobank.

If you are a patient that has consented to donate or consider donating, you may also learn about the ways samples and matched data are utilized in research studies by familiarizing with publications cited below.  These include whole genome sequencing, molecular testing, training and validation of image and data processing AI models, and testing of intraoperative diagnostic devices.

For any additional questions, please contact us at


  1. Premachandran, S., Haldavnekar, R., Ganesh, S., Das, S., Venkatakrishnan, K., Tan, B. Self-Functionalized Superlattice Nanosensor Enables Glioblastoma Diagnosis Using Lipid Biopsy. ACS Nano. October 12, 2023; 17 (20), 19832-19852. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.3c04118.
  2. Katz, L., Kiyota, T., Woolman, M., Wu, M., Pires, L., Fiorante, A., Ye, L.A., Leong, W., Berman, H., Ghazarian, D., Ginsberg, H., Das, S., Aman, A., and Zarrine-Afsar, A. Metabolic Lipids in Melanoma Enable Rapid Determination of Actionable BRAF-V600E Mutation with Picosecond Infrared Laser Mass Spectrometry in 10 Seconds. Analytical Chemistry. September 11, 2023; 95 (38), 14430-14439.
    DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.3c02901.
  3. Ganesh, S., Dharmalingam, P., Das, S., Krishan, V. and Tan, B. Mapping Immune-Tumor Bidirectional Dialog Using Ultrasensitive Nanosensors for Accurate Diagnosis of Lung Cancer. ACS Nano. April 24, 2023; 17(9): 8026-2040. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.2c09323.
  4. Meaney, C., Colak, E., Das, S. and Kohandel, M. Deep Learning Characterization of Brain Tumours with Diffusion Weighted Imaging. J Theor Biol. January 21, 2023; 557:111342. DOI: 10.1016/jtbi.2022.11342.
  5. Mimosa, M., Al-amen, W., Simpson, J., Nakhla, M., Boissinot, K., Munoz, D.G., Das, S., Feilotter, H., Fattouh, R., and Saleeb, R.M. A Novel Approach to Detect IDH Point Mutations in Gliomas Using Nanopore Sequencing, Test Validation for The Clinical Laboratory. J Mol Diagn. Dec 21, 2022; S1525-1578(22)00347-6. DOI: 10.1016/j/jmoldx.2022.12.001.
  6. Premachandran, S., Haldavnekar, R., Das, S., Venkatkrishnan, V., and Tan, B. DEEP Surveillance of Brain Cancer Using Functionalized 3D Nanoprobes for Noninvasive Liquid Biopsy. ACS Nano. September 16, 2022; 16(11): 17948-17964. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.2c04187.
  7. Dhinakaran, A.K., Dharmalingam, P., Ganesh, S., Venkatkrishnan, V., Das, S. and Tan, B. Molecular Crosstalk Between T Cells and Tumor Uncovers GBM-Specific T Cells Signatures in Blood: Noninvasive GBM Diagnosis Using Immunosensors. ACS Nano. August 30, 2022; 16: 14134-14148. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.2c04160.
  8. Ishwar, D., Haldavnekar, R., Bo, T., Das, S., and Venkatkrishnan, K. Glioblastoma-Associated Natural Killer Cell EVs Generating Tumour-Specific Signatures: Non-Invasive GBM Liquid Biopsy With Self-Functionalized Quantum Probes. ACS Nano. July 11, 2022; 16(7):10859-10877. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.2c03055.
  9. Dhinakaran, A.K., Ganesh, S., Haldavnekar, R., Das, S., Venkatkrishnan, K., and Tan, B. Holistic Analysis of Glioblastoma Stem Cell DNA Using Nanoengineered Plasmonic Metasensor for Glioblastoma Diagnosis. Small Methods. July 30, 2022; e2200547. DOI: 10.1002/smtd.202200547.
  10. Johnson, K.C., Anderson, K.J., Courtois, E.T., Barthel, F.P., Varn, F.S., Luo, D., Seignon, M., Yi, E., Kim, H., Estecio, M.R.H., Tang, M., Navin, N., Maurya, R., Ngan, C., Verburg, N., De Witt Hamer, P.C., Bulsara, K., Samuels, M., Das, S.,Robson, P., and Verhaak, R.G.W. Single-Cell Multimodal Glioma Analyses Reveal Epigenetic Regulators of Cellular Plasticity and Environmental Stress Response. Nature Genetics. Sept 30, 2021; 53, 1456-1468. DOI: 10.1038/s41588-021-00926-8.
  11. Sachamitr, P., Ho, J., Campioni, F., Ba alawi, W., Coutinho, F., Guilhamon, P., Kushida, M., Cavalli, F., Lee, L., Rastegar, N., Vu, V., Sánchez-Osuna, M., Coulombe-Huntington, J., Kanshin, E., Whetstone, H., Durand, M., Thibault, P., Hart, K., Mangos, M., Veyhl, J., Chen, Tran, W.N., Duong, B.-C., Aman, A., Che, X., Lan, X., Whitley, O., Zaslaver, O., Barsyte-Lovejoy, D., Richards, L., Restall, I., Caudy, A., Rost, H., Bonday, Z.Q., Bernstein, M., Das, S., Cusimano, M., Spears, J., Bader, G., Pugh, T., Tyers, M., Lupien, M., Haibe-Kains, B., Luchman, A., Weiss, S., Massirer, K., Prinos, P., Arrowsmith, A., and Dirks, P. PRMT5 Inhibition Disrupts Splicing and Stemness in Glioblastoma. Nat Comm. Feb 12, 2021; 12(1): 979. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21204-5.
  12. Richards, L.M., Whitley, O.K.N., MacLeod, G., Cavalli, F.M.G., Coutinho, F.J., Jaramillo, J.E., Svergun, N., Riverin, M., Croucher, D.C., Kushida, M., Yu, K., Guilhamon, P., Rastegar, N., Ahmadi, M., Bhatti, J.K., Bozek, D.A., Li., N., Lee, L., Che, C., Luis, E., Park, N.I., Spears, J., Cusimano, M.D., Das, S., Bernstein, M., Haibe-Kains, B., Lupien, M., Luchman, H.A., Weiss, S., Angers, S., Dirks, P.B., Bader, G.D., and Pugh, T.J., Gradient of Developmental and Injury-Response Transcriptional States Define Functional Vulnerabilities Underpinning Glioblastoma Heterogeneity. Nature Cancer. Jan 4, 2021; 2, 157-173. DOI:  
  13. Woolman, M., Qiu, J., Fischer, C., Ferry, I., Dara, D., Katz, L., Daud, F., Wu, M.,; Ventura, M., Bernards, N., Chan, H., Fricke, I., Zaidi, M., Wouters, B., Rutka, J., Das, S., Irish, J., Weersink, R., Ginsberg, H., Jaffray, D., and Zarrine-Afsar, A. In Situ Tissue Pathology from Spatially Encoded Mass Spectrometry Classifiers Visualized in Real Time Through Augmented Reality. Chem Sci. Jul 23, 2020; 11: 8723-8375. DOI: 10.1039/d0sc02241a
  14. Katz, L., Woolman, M., Talbot, F., Amara-Belgadi, S., Wu, M., Tortorella, S., Das, S., Ginsberg, H.J., and Zarrine-Afsar, A. Dual Laser and Desorption Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry Imaging Using the Same Interface. Anal Chem. May 5, 2020; 92(9):6349-6357. DOI: 10.1021/acs.anlachem.9b05340. PMID: 32275820.
  15. Sachdeva, R., Wu, M., Johnson, K., Kim, H., Celebre, A., Shahzad, U., Graham, M.S., Kessler, J.A., Chuang, J.H., Karamchandani, J., Bredel, M., Verhaak, R. and Das, S. BMP Signaling Mediates Glioma Stem Cell Quiescence and Confers Treatment Resistance in Glioblastoma. Sci Rep. Oct 10, 2019; 9(1): 14569. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-51270-1. PMID: 31602000.
  16. Sachdeva, R., Wu, M., Smiljanic, S., Kaskun, O., Ghannad-Zadeh, K., Celebre, A., Isaev, K., Morrissy, A.S., Guan, J., Tong, J., Chan, J., Wilson, T.M., Al-Omaishi, S., Munoz, D.G., Dirks, P.B., Moran, M.F., Taylor, M.D., Reimand, J., and Das, S. ID1 is Critical for Tumorigenesis and Regulates Chemoresistance in Glioblastoma. Cancer Res Aug 15, 2019; 79(16): 4057-4071. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-1357.
  17. Woolman, M., Kuzan-Fischer, C., Ferry, I., Kiyota, T., Luu, B., Wu, M., Munoz, D., Das, S., Aman, A., Taylor, M., Rutka, J., Ginsberg, H., and Zarrine-Afsar, A. Picosecond Infrared Laser Desorption Mass Spectrometry Identifies Medulloblastoma Subgroups on Intrasurgical Timescales. Cancer Res. May 1, 2019; 79(9): 2426-2434. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-3411.
  18. Lee, D.D., Leão, R., Komosa, M., Gallo, M., Zhang, C.H., Lipman, T., Remke, M., Heidari, A., Nunes, N.M., Apolónio, J.D., De Mello, R.A., Dias, J., Huntsman, D., Hermanns, T., Wild, P.J., Vanner, R., Zadeh, G., Karamchandani, J., Das, S., Taylor, M.D., Hawkins, C.E., Wasserman, J.D., Figueiredo, A., Hamilton, R.J., Minden, M.D., Wani, K., Diplas, B., Yan, H., Aldape, K., Akbari, M.R., Danesh, A., Pugh, T.J., Dirks, P.B., Castelo-Branco, P., and Tabori, U. DNA Hypermethylation Within TERT Promoter Upregulates TERT Expression in Cancer. J Clinic Invest. Oct 25, 2018. Pii: 121303. DOI: 10.1172/JCI121303.
  19. Coluccia, D., Figueiredo, C.A., Wu, M.Y., Reimenschneider, A.N., Diaz, R., Luck, A., Smith, C., Das, S., Ackerley, C., O’Reilly, M., Hynynen, K., and Rutka, J.T. Enhancing Glioblastoma Treatment Using Cisplatin-gold-nanoparticle Conjugates and Targeted Delivery with Magnetic Resonance-Guided Focus Ultrasound. Nanomedicine. Feb 19, 2018. pii: S1549-9634(18)30033-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.nano.2018.01.021.
  20. Lan X, Jörg DJ, Cavalli FMG, Richards LM, Nguyen LV, Vanner RJ, Guilhamon P, Lee L, Kushida MM, Pellacani D, Park NI, Coutinho FJ, Whetstone H, Selvadurai HJ, Che C, Luu B, Carles A, Moksa M, Rastegar N, Head R, Dolma S, Prinos P, Cusimano MD, Das S, Bernstein M, Arrowsmith CH, Mungall AJ, Moore RA, Ma Y, Gallo M, Lupien M, Pugh TJ, Taylor MD, Hirst M, Eaves CJ, Simons BD, Dirks PB. Fate Mapping of Human Glioblastoma Reveals an Invariant Stem Cell Hierarchy. Nature. Sep 14, 2017;549(7671):227-232. DOI: 10.1038/nature23666.
  21. Woolman, M., Ferry, I., Kuzan-Fischer, C.M., Wu, M., Zou, J., Kiyota, T., Isik, S., Dara, D., Aman, A., Das, S., Taylor, M.D., Rutka, J.T., Ginsberg, H.J., and Zarrine-Afsar, A. Rapid Determination of Medulloblastoma Subgroup Affiliation Using a Handheld Picosecond InfraRed Laser Desorption Probe. Chem Sci. Sep 1, 2017;8(9):6508-6519. DOI: 10.1039/c7sc01974b.
  22. Park, N.I., Guilhamon, P., Desai, K., McAdam, R.F., Langille, E., O’Connor, M., Lan, X., Whetstone, H., Coutinho, F.J., Vanner, R.J., Ling, E., Prinos, P., Lee, L., Selvadurai, H., Atwal, G., Kushida, M., Clarke, I.D., Voisin, V., Cusimano, M.D., Bernstein, M., Das, S., Bader, G., Arrowsmith, C.H., Angers, S., Huang, X., Lupien, M., and Dirks, P.B. ASCL1 Reorganizes Chromatin to Direct Neuronal Fate and Suppress Tumorigenicity of Glioblastoma Stem Ccells. Cell Stem Cell. Aug 3, 2017;21(2):209-224.e7. DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2017.06.004.
  23. Wu, M., Guan, J., Li, C., Gunter, S., Nusrat, L., Ng, S., Dhand, K., Morshead, C., Kim, A., and Das, S. Aberrantly activated Cox-2 and Wnt Signaling Interact to Maintain Cancer Stem Cells in Glioblastoma. Oncotarget. 2017; 8:82217-82230. DOI:10.18632/oncotarget.19283.
  24. Sorana Morrissy, A., Cavalli, F.M.G., Remke, M., Ramaswamy, V., Shih, D.J.H., Holgado, B.L., Farooq, H., Donovan, L., Garzia, L., Agnihotri, S., Kiehna, E.N., Mercier, E., Mayoh, C., Papillon-Cavanagh, S., Nikbakht, H., Gayden, T., Torchia, J., Picard, D., Merino, D., Vladoiu, M., Luu, B., Wu, X., Daniels, C., Horswell, S., Yao, Y., Hovestadt, V., Northcott, P.A., Jones, D.T.W., Peacock, J., Wang, X., Mack, S.C., Reimand, J., Albrecht, S., Fontebasso, A.M., Thiessen, N., Li, Y., Schein, J.E., Lee, D., Carlsen, R., Mayo, M., Tse, K., Tam, A., Dhalla, N., Ally, A., Chuah, E., Cheng, Y., Plettner, P., Li, H.I., Corbett, R., Wong, T., Long, W., Loukides, J., Buczkowicz, P., Hawkins, C.E., Tabori, U., Rood, B.R., Myseros, J.S., Packer, R.J., Korshunov, A., Lichter, P., Kool, M., Pfister, S.M., Schülle, U., Dirks, P., Huang, A., Bouffet, E., Rutka, J.T., Bader, G.D., Swanton, C., Ma, Y., Moore, R.A., Mungall, A.J., Majewski, J., Jones, S.J.M., Das, S., Malkin, D., Jabado, N., Marra, M.A., and Taylor, M.D.. Spatial Heterogeneity in Medulloblastoma. Nature Genet, published online April 10, 2017; DOI:10.1038/ng.3838.
  25. Woolman, M., Gribble, A., Bluemke, E., Zou, J., Ventura, M., Bernards, N., Wu, M., Ginsberg, H.J., Das, S., Vitkin, A. and Zarrine-Afsar, A. Optimized Mass Spectrometry Analysis Workflow with Polarimetric Guidance for ex vivo and in situ Sampling of Biological Tissues. Sci Rep. Mar 28, 2017;7(1):468. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-00272-y.
  26. Sarras H, Wu M, Celebre A, Merico D, Karamchandani J and Das S. A Novel Amplification-Based Approach to Enable Gene Expression Profiling from Small Clinical Tumor Specimens. J Neurooncol. 2016 Jan;126(1):69-75. doi: 10.1007/s11060-015-1953-4.
  27. Tabori U, Castelo-Branco P, Lee D, Gallo M, Limpan T, Mangerel J, Price A, Remke M, Zhang C, Heidari A, Wani K, Vanner R, Zadeh G, Karamchandani J, Das S, Taylor M, Hawkins C, Yan H, Aldape K, Dirks PB. Thor Methylation Provides Insight Into TheTelomere Maintenance Landscape of Malignant Gliomas. Neuro Oncol. 2014 Jul;16(Suppl3). DOI: 10, 1093/neuonc/nou208.29.
  28. Srikanth M, Kim J, Das S, Kessler JA. BMP Signaling Induces Astrocytic Differentiation of Clinically Derived Oligodendroglioma Propating Cells. Mol Cancer Res. 2014 Feb; 12(2):283-94. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.

Please address any questions related to the sample request process and Sample Request Form using the space provided below or emailing us directly. All queries will be forwarded to