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Facilities/Tissue Bank
May 23, 2024

Tissue Bank

A tissue bank archives tissue samples, digitized data, lab notes, and records produced from research studies that worked to better understand how low-dose radiological exposures and environmental contaminants can affect human health. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ (CNL) Tissue Bank facility functions as a research repository for animal irradiation studies completed by Chalk River Laboratories’ (CRL). The Ottawa-based tissue bank, established in May 2024, makes data and tissues collected from irradiated animals available to the larger research community. By doing so, the facility promotes collaboration and awareness within the scientific community, reduces the number of animal experiments needed across health research organizations, and significantly increases the impacts of the studies it works to preserve.

Animal studies are a critical step toward developing the preclinical research needed before a medication, device, diagnostic product, or treatment regime can advance to clinical research involving humans.

CNL’s Biological Research Facility (BRF) has a longstanding history of conducting uniquely radiological and highly valuable humane animal studies that, ultimately, produce an abundance of tissue samples. Through the Tissue Bank facility, these radiological samples can be documented and safely stored for the research community to further investigate either soon or long after studies have wrapped up.


  • To systematically organize and preserve collected animal tissues from CNL projects, and radiobiology labs across Canada.
  • To align ethical obligations in animal work to the three R’s (replace, reduce, and refine), ultimately reducing the number of animal studies performed and minimizing biological waste.
  • To promote federal research priorities to examine health effects from radiation exposure, and advance generation of radiation-mediated Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOP).
  • To support national and international collaboration for future radiation work, allowing the inclusion of research groups that otherwise could not conduct radiological-based animal studies.
  • To support initiatives to increase collaborations and project awareness among low-dose radiation researchers.

CNL Tissue Bank Sites

CNL is currently operating one of North America’s leading tissue banks.  Future investments will further expand and update on current capabilities, enabling researchers from across the globe access to this unique library of materials.


Custom constructed, the secure and operational storage site contains all necessary biobank requirements, including:

  • An isolated specific backup generator
  • Appropriate sprinkler systems (non-water), alarm systems, video surveillance, key and passcode entry, fire prevention equipment, and required health & safety materials
  • Controlled temperature and humidity
  • -86˚C ULT Freezers
  • Flammable Storage & Explosion Proof Refrigerator
  • Heavy-duty shelving for sample storage
  • Ventilated cabinets
  • Computer workstation

 Chalk River Laboratories

CNL is currently constructing a second tissue bank facility that will be located at the Chalk River Laboratories . This second facility will increase CNL’s capability to support internal programs and potential tissue donations from other institutions. It is expected to be operational in 2025.

Available Archives

  • Life Span Study – The CNL Tissue Bank has a collection of approximately 33,000 individual tissue samples from this study.


  • Marcelo Vazquez, Scientific Lead
  • Joel Surette, BRDF Project Manager
  • Sameh El Mabrouk, Tissue Bank Project Manager


Marcelo Vazquez, MD, PhD