Molecular epidemiology resources icon


Carlos H.F. Chan, MD, PhD, FACS, FRCSC
Office: 4626 Colloton Pavilion (JCP)
Phone: 1-319-356-1727

Administrative Director

Kristen Coleman, PhD
Office: E229 General Hospital
Phone: 1-319-384-4737 

The Biospecimen Procurement and Molecular Epidemiology Resource (BioMER) provides Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center members with IRB-compliant, clinically annotated, quality-ensured biomaterials to facilitate research objectives. These materials include tissues which are distributed as fresh, frozen, or paraffin-embedded specimens, and serum, plasma, and germline DNA, all linkable to tumor samples and clinical data catalogued in coordination with the tissue.

The BioMER uses a single unified biorepository consent that allows current and future use of tissue for research, permissions to link that tissue to clinical data, and to recontact the patient for additional studies. All newly diagnosed patients with appropriate histologies as selected by the investigators are approached for informed consent. Following enrollment, serum, plasma, buffy coat, and peripheral blood DNA (at diagnosis and selected longitudinal time points) are collected, as is excess surgical tissue (tumor and normal) from resections and biopsies.

The BioMER is a new Shared Resource resulting from the merger and expansion of the Tissue Procurement Core and Molecular Epidemiology Resource. It serves as a single point of entry for investigators requesting specimens for research use.


1. Patients Enhancing Research Collaborations at Holden (PERCH)

Obtain Consent for Tissue Use and Observational Studies

PERCH, serves as Holden’s single unified biorepository consent that covers current and future use of tissue for research, permission to link that tissue to clinical data, and permission to recontact the patient for additional studies. PERCH is an ‘opt in’ consent.

2. Specimen Procurement

Procurement of Tissue for Research

Specimen procurement is managed within the tissue procurement team. Tissue procurement works closely with operating room staff, surgical pathology and investigators interest in tissue. In addition, procurement works closely with the clinical protocol and data management (CPDM) effort when tissues are required for a clinical trial.

3. Disease Specific Molecular Epidemiology Resources (MER)

Support for Molecular Epidemiology

The BioMER supports eight disease-specific biorepositories affiliated with the disease-specific multidisciplinary oncology groups (MOGs).

4. National Molecular Informatics Collaboration (ORIEN)

Support the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN)

Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center joined ORIEN in December 2017. Patients agreeing to PERCH are eligible for ORIEN. ORIEN Avatar is a collaborative effort that provides whole exome and RNA sequencing linked to clinical data for select ORIEN patients.

Guidelines for Collaborating with the BioMER

University of Iowa investigators as well as those external to the university are encouraged to request tissues, data, or specimens from the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center BioMER. The BioMER gives highest priority to UI investigators if it receives competing requests for services. All investigators who are interested in obtaining data, specimens, or human tissue samples should begin by contacting the BioMER in one of two ways:

BioMER Project Request Form

New projects will be requested through a single project request form, existing within the REDCap program platform. The completed form will be reviewed by BioMER staff member for triage and a member of the BioMER team will contact the investigator for additional information as needed.

If you have questions before submitting a project form with the BioMER, please reach out by email or join us during monthly office hours.

When: 2:00-3:00 PM, third Wednesday of each month
How: Zoom Link

UI BioShare

UI BioShare is the support service provided to faculty, investigators, and study teams using Labmatrix, the UI laboratory information management system (LIMS) used to catalog biomaterials collected for research throughout the University of Iowa campus. UI BioShare supports research that involves human and animal derived biomaterials such as tissue, blood, and biome specimens. To submit a request for a consultation or for an overview of the samples available, please submit a consultation request through the UI Health Care Enterprise Service Center (ESC).

Enrollment Process

Research Consult

At University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics and Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, patient care and the patient experience are very important. As a teaching hospital, research and education are also important, and many members of the health care team at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center are involved in a variety of research activities aimed to find better ways to treat and diagnose health related disorders. We have made time during the first appointments a patient may have in the cancer center to talk about research opportunities. 

This consult is not required, nor is participation in research projects. Patient care is not affected by the decision of whether or not to participate in research activities. Patients may contact research staff at the cancer center to opt out of a research consultation visit by emailing or calling 1-319-356-4783.

PERCH: UI Health Care’s Unified Biorepository Consent

In an effort to simplify the consent process for patients, in 2018 Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center introduced the Patients Enhancing Research Collaborations at Holden (PERCH) partnership. PERCH utilizes the unified biorepository consent, bringing together many active biorepository projects including the Molecular Epidemiology Resource Core, the Tissue Procurement Core/UI BioBank, and the Gynecologic Malignancies Biobank as well as introducing new projects, including the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN). The PERCH is open to patients whether or not they have cancer or are being seen at Holden.