The Institute for Precision Medicine (IPM)

Announce Pilot Project Funding in

Support of Human Tissue Requests from the Pitt Biospecimen Core (PBC)

The Institute for Precision Medicine (IPM; is a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. The IPM facilitates the movement of precision medicine research into personalized clinical care. The over-arching goal is to help researchers and clinicians discover and exploit clinically actionable individual features about risk of disease, disease course, optimal treatment, and response to therapy.


The Pitt Biospecimen Core (PBC, formerly the Health Science Tissue Bank, HSTB; provides central support for University of Pittsburgh research programs requiring biospecimens for research from patients seen at UPMC. The tissue accrual and disbursement function of the PBC has been in existence since 1991. The PBC contains over 800,000 biological samples from about 65,000 patient visits to the UPMC hospitals over the past 25 years. Researcher can view the current inventory using the ‘What’s in the bank” tab at the PBC website (  These samples consist mainly of frozen surgical excess tissue and biofluids for multiple disease states including cancer, pneumonia, Crohns disease, diverticulosis and many others. Investigators interested in sourcing human biospecimens from PBC can register with PBC ( to access the fully searchable database and identify specific sample types and numbers available from the core.


The goal of this pilot project program is to stimulate use of the PBC specimen banking and disbursement services, to enhance translational research, and to enable the generation of data to support competitive precision medicine grant submissions. Examples might include the disbursement of tumor and normal paired tissue samples for analysis, or support for blood collection and storage on specific patient cohorts (i.e., blood banking for cfDNA studies).

The program will support the PBC accrual and/or disbursement costs for up to 20 biospecimens for pilot analysis.


Deadline for submission of proposals: January 11th, 2019.


Decisions will be made in February 2019, and funding will be available for PBC charges for up to one year starting March 2019. Recipients are required to submit a progress report upon completion of the proposed pilot.


Budget information

Financial support will transfer directly from IPM to PBC to cover agreed upon specimen and/or processing costs, approved by the IPM based on a quote from the PBC for the proposed study. For proposals requesting oncology sample collection or disbursement the Hillman Cancer Center may co-sponsor selected proposals. No funding will be provided directly to the investigator for other project expenses or salary support. If an award is to be made, no support can be offered until any necessary regulatory protocols (IRB, CORID) are approved.



University of Pittsburgh faculty members at the levels of assistant/research assistant professor, associate/research associate professor, and professor/research professor are eligible to apply. See below for relevant instructions.


General Instructions, Format, and Guidelines

The proposal should be no more than 2 pages in length. Proposal should provide the background, rationale for study and expected outcomes. Biosketches of the PI and other key investigators must be submitted with the research proposal. If IRB or CORID protocol approvals are required to conduct the research, the relevant approvals must be obtained before funds will be released to support the project. Budgets are not required for PBC costs and quotes will be developed by PBC after funding selection.


Review Criteria

The primary review criteria are:

  • The scientific premise, feasibility and merit of the project
  • The potential to lead to more comprehensive studies and future funding
  • The degree to which the project is likely to attract external funding in the future
  • Appropriate experience of PI/team, with some demonstration of ongoing record of accomplishments


Applications will undergo peer review by investigators from the IPM, and by Hillman Cancer Center investigators for oncology projects, as appropriate. Following peer review, projects will be chosen based upon score and programmatic relevance.


Applications are to be submitted electronically, as pdf files, to Jennifer Xavier, by 5:00 pm on January 11th, 2019. No exceptions will be made to the receipt date. Within one week of the receipt date, each applicant should receive an e-mail message notifying him/her that his/her application has been received. If an applicant does not receive such notification, he/she should contact Jennifer Xavier.  Logistical, administrative and scientific questions about the program should be directed to Jennifer Xavier (