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At the Center for Health Research, we can 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.

Kaiser Permanente Northwest (KPNW) and CHR are committed to making specimen resources available for collaborative scientific research. The Advisory for Biospecimen Committee (ABC) governs research use of these resources, which are housed in the Northwest Tissue Library (NWTL).

Northwest Tissue Library

The Northwest Tissue Library (NWTL) consists of archival paraffin-embedded tissue samples from patients in the Portland metro area that were originally collected for clinical diagnostic purposes. These specimens have been successfully accessed for numerous research studies.


  • 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 tissue 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.

Clinical Data

Samples collected at KPNW can be linked to electronic medical record and administrative data, and transformed into a common data model stored in the Virtual Data Warehouse (VDW). The common data model facilitates research that utilizes combinations of data from multiple source databases, or includes combinations of data across multiple institutions.

Cancer research studies can utilize the KPNW Tumor Registry—a centralized registry of all cancer patients diagnosed since 1960—which tracks a patient’s course of care after a cancer diagnosis. The Tumor Registry contains data on staging, treatment, and survival, as well as detailed pathology and cytology reports.

Research Data Warehouse

The CHR-Northwest Research Data Warehouse (RDW) is a store of research-ready data accumulated from a wide range of sources including electronic medical records, insurance claims, state records, and legacy data systems. The RDW incorporates 55 tables which have been used and validated by many research projects and internal data monitoring processes. Research Data Warehouse tables include data related to health care utilization, demographics, lab, treatments administered via infusion, enrollment, death, pharmacy, tumor registry, oncology, pathology, and more.

Opportunities for prospective collection

If a study requires specific samples that are not currently available at KPNW, external researchers may collaborate with a CHR investigator on a new study involving prospective collection of samples. To inquire about this type of study, please contact the Advisory for Biospecimen Committee, who will coordinate with CHR investigators who may be interested in such a collaboration.

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 www.kp.org/researchbank

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