Ontario Tumour Bank to Cease Operations in 2022-23

April 8, 2021 

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) regrets to announce that the Ontario Tumour Bank (OTB) will be winding down its services and discontinuing operations within the 2022-23 fiscal year. The OICR executive has made this difficult decision because of the need to balance competing scientific priorities under conditions of budgetary constraint. 

OICR emphasizes that this decision in no way reflects on the quality of OTB’s services, the expertise and professionalism of its staff, or the quality of its leadership. Over its 19 years of operations, OTB has built an international reputation for the quality of its services, the diversity of its inventory of cancer disease sites and samples, and the integrity of its protocols for respecting the privacy of the patients who have donated their tissues for biomedical research. OTB accrued nearly 200,000 samples from nearly 22,000 patient donors and has distributed over 45,000 samples from over 11,000 patient donors in support of hundreds of projects over the years. These projects have contributed to more than 165 published manuscripts (31 in Nature journals) with 26,700 citations to date. 

We are proud of these and other key accomplishments OTB has made and honour all the OTB staff and patient donors who have contributed to it over the past two decades. OTB continued to push the leading edge of biobanking, increasing operational scope and efficiency and was successful, both in terms of supporting research and cost recovery.

Researchers currently working with OTB can remain confident that existing requests will be fulfilled and OTB will be actively supporting new requests from the existing sample bank to ensure the maximal use of its current inventory. Collection of new samples will cease during 2021. 

After OTB’s closure, OICR will endeavour to make the existing samples available to approved researchers through an alternate access mechanism. Details will be announced at a later date.  All safeguards for patients who have entrusted OTB with their materials will remain in effect. General information for patients is available at https://ontariotumourbank.ca/patients and will be updated as arrangements are made.

We are deeply grateful for the commitment, past and present, of all OTB staff, investigators and especially the patients who have formed the core group OTB has sought to serve throughout its 19-year lifespan. We also wish to gratefully acknowledge the support of our hospital partners, both now and in the past, without whom OTB would not have been possible: Credit Valley Hospital, Kingston Health Sciences Centre, London Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and The Ottawa Hospital/OHRI. To everyone who has contributed, in whatever way, we offer a heartfelt vote of thanks.

Dr. Laszlo Radvanyi
President and Scientific Director, OICR