Procedure for requesting NCRAD samples

In order to request specimens, investigators need to apply to the NCRAD Biospecimen Review Committee (BRC).

The NCRAD BRC has been established to review applications seeking access to biospecimens banked at NCRAD to ensure that these samples are appropriately disseminated and matched with the best research.

All applications for biospecimens must be submitted online via the NCRAD BRC Application Form.

This application requires the investigator to provide information and attach files:

  1. Basic information about the requesting investigator
  2. Investigator’s biosketch
  3. Research strategy (4 page limit, for details see Appendix 1)
  4. Table of requested samples
  5. Basic information about project support

The NCRAD BRC members have broad expertise including disease phenotype, biomarker assay development and statistical analysis. The committee will use the calendar below for their review cycles. Within 2-3 weeks of the review, NCRAD prepares a letter notifying the applicant of the review decision. The NIA has the final decision on application approval/denials.

Date Submitted Approximate Date of Review
July 1-August 31 October 1
September 1-October 31 December 1
November 1-December 31 February 1
January 1-February 28 April 1
March 1-April 30 June 1
May 1-June 30 August 1

What if the collection I am interested in does not have a catalog?

If a catalog is unavailable for the samples you are interested in please send an email to with project details of which specimen types, volumes, and study (ies) are of interest. NCRAD will work with you to determine the information needed. Investigators are encouraged to contact the NCRAD BRC as early in the process as possible to determine availability of their samples of interest.

Are there limits on the number of samples I can request?

There is no maximum or minimum of samples that a researcher can request. Any request must justify the number of samples being requested.

What does the committee consider when reviewing my application?

NCRAD BRC reviewers assess the application considering the following questions:

  • Is there sufficient evidence supporting the likelihood of this study identifying novel findings, or of otherwise contributing important knowledge regarding disease etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis or treatment?
  • Is the project technically feasible, and if preliminary data is provided, does the assay/platform utilized provide robust and reproducible results?
  • Do the investigators sufficiently justify the use of the resources?
  • Do the investigators have the expertise, personnel and institutional setting to achieve the goals of the proposal?
  • Is the number of samples requested reasonable and sufficiently powered to achieve statistical significance for hypothesis testing and to demonstrate conservation of the resource (i.e. are the number of samples requested sufficient but not in excess of what is needed)?

What are the possible outcomes of the review?

  • Approval
  • Approval upon revision: Investigators will be informed of the concerns that would need to be addressed before the application could move forward. A revised application can be submitted and reviewed on a rolling basis.
  • Denial of the application: Investigators will be informed of the concerns that were noted by the committee. A new application can be submitted but will be reviewed at the next available review cycle.

Can I request a letter of support for my grant application?

Yes, there are two types of letters of support that we can provide. If you complete an application and your request is approved by the NCRAD BRC, you can receive a letter that indicates you have been approved for specimens. This approval is valid for 12 months. If you do not complete an application and/or your request is not approved, NCRAD can provide a letter of support that indicates the types of samples we bank and will state that before samples will be distributed to you, you will need to have your application approved by the NCRAD BRC.

If approved, how long is my approval valid?

Once approved, your approval is valid for 12 months.

What can I expect after I receive my approval and I am ready to receive samples?

NCRAD sets up a call with the approved investigator and the NIH approved data site for unblinding. This call will focus on administrative and investigator tasks, along with sample selection and the NCRAD shipment processes.

What is an example of an NIH approved data site?

There are many different NIH approved data sites. These include but are not limited to: