Research Lab & Biological Resources

At the Center for Health Research–Northwest, we are able to pair Kaiser Permanente’s high-quality clinical data with DNA and other biological specimens, thus greatly extending the reach and potential of our scientific work.

These local resources are housed in the Northwest Research Lab, Tissue Clinical Library, and Tumor Registry. We also participate in the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank, a national repository of genetic, environmental, and health data that spans all seven KP regions.

Northwest Research Lab

Our state-of-the-art Northwest Research Lab contains data and biospecimens representing a broad range of members and health conditions. The lab includes DNA samples as well as non-genetic specimens such as blood, fecal, and mucosal samples. These resources are rapidly improving our understanding of the genetic and environmental factors implicated in disease, as well as our ability to investigate innovative new ways to detect, treat, and prevent disease.

In facilitating diverse genomic and non-genomic studies, the Northwest Research Lab will play a key role in our contributions to the burgeoning field of personalized medicine, allowing us to explore the etiology of disease at the individual level.

Laboratory Infrastructure

The Northwest Research Lab includes a 1,000-square-foot facility with four 25 cu. ft. 80-degree chest freezers with liquid nitrogen backup, full inventory rack systems, and a web-based temperature tracking system connected to alarms. It also includes a clinical centrifuge, refrigerator, -20 degree freezer, biological safety cabinet, three automated blood-to-DNA processors, gel electrophoresis equipment and imaging system, thermal cycler, spectrophotometer, Nanodrop, RealTime PCR detection system, and GenVault personal archive. The lab is equipped with general small laboratory equipment including microcentrifuges, vortex mixers, shaking incubator, pH meter, balances, water bath, microwave, pipettes, barcode scanners and printer, computers, phones, and a fax and general printer.

Tissue Clinical Library

The Tissue Clinical Library consists of archival paraffin-embedded tissue samples from patients in the Portland metro area that were originally collected for clinical diagnostic purposes. Key details:

  • The library includes more than 3.5 million individual tissue blocks dating back to 1971. The blocks contain both normal and tumor tissue.
  • The biospecimens have been fixed in 10% neutral buffered formalin and then embedded in paraffin blocks.
  • We also have slides associated with the 3.5 million blocks, with staining as ordered by initial pathology review or requested subsequently at the request of a KPNW pathologist for clinical purposes. This generally includes a Hematoxylin and eosin (H & E) stain and may include other special stains particular to cancer or other diagnostic needs.
  • Specimens in the Tissue Clinical Library are linked to electronic medical record data, and additional data, such as the tumor registry.


Tumor Registry

Kaiser Permanente Northwest maintains a centralized tumor registry of all cancer patients diagnosed since 1960. Excluding basal cell carcinomas of the skin, more than 50,000 tumors have been registered. This registry tracks a patient’s entire course of care after a cancer diagnosis. Survival information is acquired through an aggressive follow-up program that achieves a more than 95 percent retention rate. New cases are routinely added to the computerized database and the information is continuously updated with survival data. Items in this database include:

  • Identification and demographics—health record number, accession number, date of birth, and cytology report
  • Pathologist report—gross, microscopic, and diagnostic description in text format
  • Site(s) of specimen
  • Polyp size (mm)
  • Staging
  • Up to nine summary diagnoses.


Working with the Northwest Research Lab

The Northwest Research Lab is managed by CHR’s Clinical Research Support Services. If you are a Kaiser Permanente investigator or collaborator who wishes to engage with the Research Lab or learn more about our available resources, please contact

  Cheryl McGinley
  Shawn Westaway

KP Research Bank

The mission of the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank is to facilitate cutting-edge research by making large-scale genetic, molecular, environmental, and health information available to scientists. The KP Research Bank includes clinical data and blood samples from all seven KP regions, resulting in a large and highly diverse study population.

Learn more at

CHR Northwest

CHR Hawaii