Discover the Liverpool Biobanking Facility

Liverpool is in the center of one of the UK’s largest urban areas. Originally a port, Liverpool was developed into the UK’s second most important city during the Industrial Revolution, after London.

Liverpool has a rich cultural history; however, socioeconomic discrepancies resulted in deprivation, with subsequent health burdens. As a result, expert research and innovation in health have gathered in Liverpool.

The University of Liverpool is a world-leading university that supports specialist health resources like the University of Liverpool Biobanking Facility, which now includes one of the oldest tissue banks in the UK.

The biobank is an invaluable resource for researchers who study the molecular mechanisms of medical conditions with the hope of developing new treatments.

Employees at the biobank work closely with researchers, advancing medicine globally and expanding scientific knowledge on health conditions like cancer.

A long history of quality research

The University of Liverpool Biobanking Facility gathers and archives biological samples (blood and tissue) from patients undergoing biopsy procedures or surgery for the treatment and diagnosis of an array of medical conditions.

This undertaking – which is still relatively novel – was formed to afford professional research groups with access to high-quality biosamples and data. Additionally, the biobank provides an array of histology-based services.

Discover the Liverpool Biobanking Facility

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Based at the University of Liverpool, the biobank was formally the Liverpool Tissue Bank (LTB) and was founded in 1993. The LTB then became the Bio-Innovation Hub (LBIH) Biobank, which was finally combined with the Liverpool University Biobank (LUB). It has been working with PHCbi ever since its inception.

Susan Holden, manager of the biobank, is responsible for the day-to-day running of the biobank. Holden preliminarily assesses research proposals before they are put forward to the Biobank Review Panel, as well as overseeing finances, and acts as an ambassador for the facility at a local, national and international level.

Discover the Liverpool Biobanking Facility

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“The University of Liverpool Biobanking Facility has evolved significantly since it was established in 2015. It was originally focused on bioresources for cancer research, and while this is still an important area for us, there is now much more to our capabilities”, she explained. “We work together with the University of Liverpool, but also collaborate with Principal Investigators (PIs) from research in many other institutions, such as hospitals. Specialties including head and neck, cardiovascular and alcohol-related conditions are areas that we collaborate on frequently. As well as collections of biosamples from patients, we also have collections of healthy donor tissues.”

Currently, the biobank gathers biosamples and clinical data from patients who have undergone surgery at hospitals and health trusts, including,

  • Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  

Supporting scientific breakthroughs

The biobank frequently collaborates with research projects that underpin major advances in medical treatment and scientific knowledge.

For example, a recent project explored the potential of using volatile organic compounds in urine as biomarkers in the surveillance of Urothelial Bladder Cancer.

This could replace more invasive cystoscopy, such as camera investigation via the urethra, which is currently the only available method of monitoring the occurrence and recurrence of this common cancer.

Discover the Liverpool Biobanking Facility

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Professor Chris Probert (University of Liverpool) and Professor Norman Radcliffe (the University of the West of England, UWE) lead a research team on a groundbreaking study1. The study, which commenced in 2016, created Odoreader, a gas chromatography sensor system which is capable of analyzing biomarkers for prostate cancer.

Odoreader has since been applied to new scenarios and is now capable of detecting bladder cancer. The study results suggest a statistically significant potential for further investigation. This will compare the diagnosis made by the Odoreader with findings of surveillance cystoscopy.

Depending on that study, there is potential for the commercialization of Odoreader for bladder cancer.

The biobank has worked in close partnership with Professor Probert in this investigation, which will ultimately change the way we test for bladder cancer with the aim of making it far less invasive for patients and health care professionals, and create a reliable tool that even General Practitioners (GPs) can use to detect the disease.”

Susan Holden, Manager, Biobank

Contributing directly to public health

The publically funded NHS (National Health Service) runs most of the UK’s health services. In England and Wales, the NHS is organized into NHS Trusts. The Trusts mostly serve a specialism or geographical area.

Various NHS Trusts provide healthcare to the local population in the Liverpool area. By working with these Trusts, the University of Liverpool Biobanking Facility has better accessibility to a larger number of biosamples. As a result, the biobank can make a more substantial contribution to a larger scale, health-based research projects.

Discover the Liverpool Biobanking Facility

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“We already work together with some of the NHS Trusts in Liverpool and it is our aim to get the biobank approved to work with more of them,” explained Holden.

This is both one of our biggest challenges and opportunities. Liverpool has a health landscape that is expanding and changing considerably. There are many new clinical research centers under development within the multiple NHS Trusts that serve the city. In 2020, a new specialist facility, the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, opened its doors, and a large new hospital, the Royal Liverpool Hospital, is being completed. Building a working partnership with an NHS Trust involves an intricate process of approval, but when successful, enables us to make a direct contribution to public health.”

Susan Holden, Manager, Biobank

Highest standards of regulatory compliance

In the UK, using human tissue in research in the UK is highly regulated through national and local policies. The University of Liverpool Biobanking Facility stringently adheres to all relevant regulatory procedures.

Some variation does exist between NHS Trusts and other organizations in procedures and policies; nevertheless, all of these are incorporated into the biobank’s work.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, additional procedures have been introduced. For example, extra disinfection procedures for samples, reductions in the number of people in the laboratory, and risk assessments for infection.

Expanding resources

At present, the biobank obtains consent and gathers biological samples (blood and tissue) from around 800 patients per year that are then banked. There are over 40,000 samples of frozen and paraffin wax embedded material. The biggest collections of samples are of pancreatic, colorectal, and breast tissues.

The University of Liverpool Biobanking Facility also exclusively adopts biological sample collections with the appropriate consent. This facility is already a vital resource for important research; however, there are plans to expand with the appropriate restructuring to accommodate this already underway.

As part of the process of issuing biosamples and clinical information, researchers that utilize the University of Liverpool Biobanking facility are required to supply raw data – attained by using its samples – back to the biobank after completion of their research project or publication.

This process allows the facility to assist in directing future research projects and promotes partnership between research groups whilst consolidating its contribution to broader research even further.

All of the sample collections at the biobanking facilities are listed in the UK Clinical Research Collaboration Tissue Directory, and the facility is a member of the UK’s Confederation of Cancer Biobanks (CCB).

Far from a frozen environment

Despite one of its primary functions being the storage of biological samples, the biobanking facility is a highly dynamic research facility. The contribution of the facility in progressing science and medicine is increasingly coming to the fore. 

Discover the Liverpool Biobanking Facility

Image Credit: PHC Europe B.V.

Well-equipped for the future

“Our capabilities as a biobank now and in the future are possible because the University of Liverpool Biobanking Facility is extremely well equipped,” said Holden. “We have a large freezer capacity provided by PHCbi, who have been our suppliers for almost two decades. This is essential. A large part of the appeal of using the biobank is that researchers do not have to buy their own freezers and other equipment to handle biosamples. We currently have 25 MDF-U700VX-PE and MDF-DU702VX-PE -80 °C PHCbi freezers, thirteen MDF-C2156VAN-PE -150 °C PHCbi freezers, and one fridge-freezer. Of course, a service agreement for maintenance and care of the equipment is provided by PHCbi too.”

What we particularly like about PHCbi is the intense attention to detail that they provide us within products and services. They really do look at everything. Nothing is left to chance – For example, when installing new equipment, they will always check the installation parameters, such as if equipment will fit through certain doors, etc. We also like features of the PHCbi freezers, such as interchangeable racking.”

Susan Holden, Manager, Biobank

“Moving forward clinical research is not possible without partnership and collaboration,” concluded Holden. “Creating a better future for patients, their families, and healthcare professionals requires synergy, intricate and continual communication, and sharing of high-quality resources and data. We are delighted to provide a central role in advancing research through effective partnership.” 

Discover the Liverpool Biobanking Facility

Image Credit: PHC Europe B.V.

Services offered by the University of Liverpool Biobanking Facility

  • Sectioning of frozen and FFPE tissue.
  • Histology services – This includes processing and paraffin wax embedding of formalin-fixed tissue.
  • Digital slide scanning which utilizes an Aperio slide scanner.
  • Staining services – This includes immunohistochemistry, Hematoxylin and Eosin.
  • Nucleic acid extraction from frozen or fixed material using a QIAsymphony machine.
  • Next-generation sequencing using a MiSeq.
  • Laser capture microdissection.

Discover the Liverpool Biobanking Facility

Image Credit: PHC Europe B.V.

Equipped to offer an array of services

  • Thirteen -150 °C PHCbi freezers
  • 25-80 °C PHCbi freezers
  • H&E autostainer
  • One fridge freezer
  • Cryostat
  • 2 x biosafety cabinets
  • Microtone
  • Tissue processor
  • DNA robot
  • Slide scanner
  • Inverted microscope
  • Fluorescent microscope
  • TMA construct

Solid regulatory framework

Applicable UK regulation for the biobanking facility includes:

  • The Human Tissue Act Code of Practice is issued by the Human Tissue Authority.
  • The Human Tissue Act 2004 and subsidiary regulations.
  • The Data Protection Act 1998.
  • The Health and Social Care Act 2003.
  • The General Data Protection Regulation Act 2018.

Scientific papers published from material provided by The University of Liverpool Biobanking Facility


Hannah A. Davies, Eva Caamaño-Gutiérrez, Ya Hua Chim, Mark Field, Omar Nawaytou, Lorenzo Ressel, Riaz Akhtar & Jillian Madine. Idiopathic degenerative thoracic aneurysms are associated with increased aortic medial amyloid. Amyloid, DOI:10.1080/13506129.2019.1625323


Areege Kamal, Anthony Valentijn, Roger Barraclough, Philip Rudland, Nihad Rahmatalla, Pierre MartinHirsch, Helen Stringfellow, Shandya B. Decruze and Dharani K. Hapangama. High AGR2 protein is a feature of low grade endometrial cancer cells. Oncotarget, 2018, Vol. 9, (No. 59), pp: 31459-31472


Raymond Q. Migrino, Hannah A. Davies, Seth Truran, Nina Karamanova, Daniel A. Franco, Thomas G. Beach, Geidy E. Serrano, Danh Truong, Mehdi Nikkhah, and Jillian Madine Amyloidogenic medin induces endothelial dysfunction and vascular inflammation through the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts. Cardiovascular Research, Volume 113, Issue 11, 1 September 2017, Pages 1389–1402.

Ahmed A, Pritchard DM, Burkitt MD. PTH-060 Expression of MAdCAM-1 in the upper gastrointestinal tract: Is there a role for disrupting interactions between MAdCAM -1 and alpha-4/beta-7 integrin in upper GI Crohn’s disease? Gut 2017. 66 (S2) A236. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2017-314472.459 Presented as a poster at the British Society of Gastroenterology’s Annual Meeting 2017.

Thamir M. Ismail, Daimark Bennett, Angela M. Platt-Higgins, Morteta Al-Medhity, Roger Barraclough, and Philip S. Rudland. S100A4 Elevation Empowers Expression of Metastasis Effector Molecules in Human Breast Cancer. Cancer Res; 77(3) February 1, 2017


Rasheed Zakaria, Angela Platt-Higgins, Nitika Rathi, Daniel Crooks, Andrew Brodbelt, Emmanuel Chavredakis, David Lawson, Michael D Jenkinson and Philip S Rudland. Metastasis-inducing proteins are widely expressed in human brain metastases and associated with intracranial progression and radiation response. British Journal of Cancer (2016) 114, 1101–1108 | doi: 10.1038/bjc.2016.103

Hiu-Fung Yuen1, Ka-Kui Chan1, Angela Platt-Higgins2, El-Habib Dakir1,4, Kyle B. Matchett1, Yusuf Ahmed Haggag1,7, Puthen V. Jithesh6, Tanwir Habib6, Ahmed Faheem5, Fennell A. Dean3, Richard Morgan4, Philip S. Rudland2, Mohamed El-Tanani4. Ran GTPase promotes cancer progression via Met receptor mediated downstream signalling. Oncotarget, Vol. 7, No. 46 

Discover the Liverpool Biobanking Facility

Image Credit: PHC Europe B.V.

About PHC Europe B.V.

Founded in 1990 as subsidiary of the PHC Holdings Corporation, it is our mission to become a leading, trusted brand for sustainable healthcare and biomedical product solutions, which support the work of our customers to improve the health and well-being of people around the world.

For more than 25 years now, we respond to the needs of our pharmaceutical, biotechnology, hospital/clinical and industrial customers, offering an unique perspective on scientific research in general. As a result we play a critical role in product development for worldwide applications and have established a reputation as a manufacturer of high-quality and innovative medical and laboratory equipment.

Long lasting relationships have been built with leading pharmaceutical, healthcare and biotechnology companies as well as with major academic and research institutes in Europe. PHC Europe B.V. has set the standard in many aspects. V.I.P. panels, Cool Safe compressors, Active Background Contamination Control and the world’s first -152 °C ULT freezer. Where PHC Europe B.V. took the initiative, the others followed. This made us a very important player in both the ultra-low temperature and the CO2 market.

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Last updated: Oct 18, 2022 at 10:07 AM


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