Expert Advisors

Canadian Tissue Repository Network Management

CTRNet is a translational cancer research resource, funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research, that furthers Canadian health research by linking cancer researchers with provincial tumour banks.

Candace Carter


Candace Carter works at NSW Health Pathology in Sydney, Australia and is part of the team developing the NSW Biobank Certification Program. The program is based on the Canadian program and is tailored for Australian biobanks and pathology laboratories engaged in biobanking activities. She worked with OBER in 2012-3 and played an important role in the successful launch of the Biobank Resource Centre. She also has over 15 years of experience in clinical research and her work has focused on tissue banking since 2007. She formerly set up and managed the melanoma biospecimen bank at the Melanoma Institute of Australia in Sydney and the gastrointestinal biobank at Pancreas Centre BC in Vancouver, Canada. She has held various management and coordinating roles in oncology and infectious disease research groups and clinical trials, in academic and hospital settings.

Stefanie Cheah


Stefanie Cheah is a Project Manager for the University of British Columbia Office of Biobank Education and Research (OBER). She leads the coordination of the Permission to Contact (PTC) Platform, a strategy to overcome the obstacles of patient recruitment by asking all patients entering a clinic/centre for their permission to be contacted for future research purposes. She has also been involved with creating education content and supporting the biobank certification program. Stefanie brings over five years experience in the laboratory setting specializing in the areas of molecular biology, immunology and biochemistry.

Jane Carpenter


Jane Carpenter has many years' experience working in diagnostic laboratories in the UK and Australia specialising in haematology. She made the move into tissue banking in 2003 being employed by the paediatric tumour bank at Westmead Children's Hospital. Since 2006 she has been the manager of the Australian Breast Cancer Tissue Bank (ABCTB), headquartered in the Westmead Millennium Institute in NSW and has significant experience in many aspects of tissue banking both at a practical and managerial level.

Her current position involves oversight of a networked cohort of recruitment/collection centres for the ABCTB which are largely based in clinical facilities across two states with expansion to 2-3 other states to occur in the near future.

The position also oversees a centralised processing facility (CPF) which encompasses both laboratory based activities and administration of interactions with outside researchers. Applications to the ABCTB are made from researchers from across the globe. Jane has been a member of the Australasian Biospecimen Network Association Committee since incorporation of the association in 2009 and served as Vice President for the past year. She was elected to the ISBER Council in 2011 and has been a member of the ISBER Education and Training committee since 2008. Jane is the current co-chair of the ISBER Program Committee for the 2013 Annual Meeting to be held in Sydney.

Jane is involved in realising educational opportunities and a career structure for tissue banking personnel staff and has been involved in a working group to prepare and design an educational programme which will lead to a formal qualification in Tissue Banking for technical staff. Jane is also a member of the Marble Arch International Working Group on Biobanking.

Dr. William Grizzle


Dr. Grizzle is a researcher with his major focus in translational research on squamous cell carcinomas, adenocarcinomas and neuroendocrine tumors. He is board certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and is Professor of Pathology at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB). For the last three decades, Dr. Grizzle, via the Tissue Collection and Banking Facility (TCBF) at UAB, has provided human tissues to support the research of biomedical investigators throughout North America.

The TCBF includes the Southern Division of the Cooperative Human Tissue Network (CHTN). In 1985, he introduced to tissue resources the utilization of histopathological quality control of tissue aliquots actually provided for research and he has been involved in the development of standards and operational issues for biorepositories including database development. In this regard, he was a founding member of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) and is past president of ISBER and has worked on all editions of ISBER Best Practices.

He is a trustee of the Biological Stain Commission (BSC) and past vice president and past president of the BSC. The BSC is an organization which certifies biological stains and provides education and support as to factors such as tissue preparation, which affect histochemical and immunohistochemical staining and other molecular assays. He has great expertise in Biorepository Sciences including how fixation of tissues interacts with the stages of tissue processing to affect immunorecognition and other molecular assays.

Dr. Richard Hegele


Dr. Hegele is the Professor and Chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and the University of Toronto, and Chief of the Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children. His current research focuses on understanding how respiratory viruses bind and enter into cells to initiate infection, kinetics of viral replication within infected cells, and modulating virus-host interactions.

He was one of the founding members of the BC BioLibrary and has been involved from the outset with the biobank certification and education program.

Dr. Sara Nußbeck


Dr. Sara Nußbeck worked with OBER on the Educational Modules as a visiting scientist throughout summer 2013. She leads the research group CIOffice research networks within the Institute of Medical Informatics at the University Medical Center in Göttingen, Germany. Her group develops and provides IT-infrastructure and tools for medical research networks including biobanks. Before she went into Medical Informatics for her Post-Doc, she did her PhD in Molecular Biology in Göttingen.

Dr. Bruce Ritchie


Bruce Ritchie is an Associate Professor of Haematology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where he is active in both clinical and basic research. His clinical interests include bleeding disorders, thrombotic disorders, primary immunodeficiency, hereditary angioedema, hemoglobinopathies, porphyria and blood borne pathogens.

He has developed specialty clinics in Edmonton to provide comprehensive care including home treatment with blood products to these groups. He is intimately involved in surveillance of the blood system in Canada; he chairs the committee which oversees the Canadian Haemophilia Assessment and Resource Management information System (CHARMS), a national program to track blood clotting products used in patient homes.

He is principle Investigator of the Blood Borne Pathogens Project and has built a medium size biobank as a proof of concept for a larger automated biobank. He runs a dozen clinical research projects in addition to the Blood Borne Pathogens Surveillance project, including regulatory trials for the pharmaceutical industry, and investigator initiated trials. His research laboratory works on tissue archiving, genomic discovery, cryopreservation, use of ink jet printers to print biomaterials and cells and development of technical fixes to increase throughput in the biobank. He was on the Governance oversight committee of the BC BioLibrary and is the main driver behind the Canadian Biosample Repository in Edmonton Alberta; this facility provides efficient and robust biosample processing, management, storage and retrieval infrastructure.

Katherine Sexton


Katherine C. Sexton received her undergraduate degree from Samford University and a Master's Degree in Business Administration from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has served as the Assistant Director of the UAB Tissue Collection and Banking Facility since 1983 and as the Coordinator for the Southern Division of the Cooperative Human Tissue Network since 1987. Ms. Sexton also manages the operations of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Tissue Procurement Shared Facility, the UAB Breast SPORE Biorepository, the UAB Pancreatic SPORE Biorepository, and the Center for Tissue Processing for the Pulmonary Hypertension Breakthrough Initiative (PHBI).

Ms. Sexton was one of the founding members of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER), and has served on the ISBER Council, the Program Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and currently serves as the Chair of the ISBER Education and Training Committee. She received the ISBER Special Service Award in 2008, 2009 and 2011. Ms. Sexton and Dr. William Grizzle have been leading workshops on tissue biorepository design and operations since 1993.

Dr. Jim Vaught


Dr. Jim Vaught spent 14 years (1999-2013) at the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), most recently as the Chief of the Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research Branch (BBRB) in the Cancer Diagnosis Program. He has been working in the field of biorepository and biospecimen science for over 20 years. In 1999, he was one of the founding members of the International Society for Biological & Environmental Repositories (ISBER) and was its second President. He serves as vice chair of the ISBER Publications Committee and co-chair of the International Resource Locator Working Group.

He serves on a number of biobank advisory groups including the Telethon-Italy Genetic Biobank Network; the Stellenbosch University (Cape Town) H3-Africa Governance Advisory Panel; and the Biobanques Network (France) Scientific Board.

In addition to ISBER, Dr. Vaught is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the European Society for Biopreservation & Biobanking and the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.

He is the author of nearly 70 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. From 2006 to 2012 he was Senior Editor for Biospecimens and Biorepositories for the AACR journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. In 2012, he became Editor-in-Chief of Biopreservation and Biobanking, the official journal of ISBER. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the International Prevention Research Institute (Lyon).

Dr. Nik Zeps


Dr. Zeps is a PhD scientist involved in translational research in breast, gastrointestinal and gynecological malignancies. He is the head of a translational research program at St John of God HealthCare (SJOGHC), which is integrated into clinical care. This work has included establishing a research biobank, a molecular diagnostic service and the provision of laboratory services for clinical trials for a large private metropolitan hospital. He is currently developing a national strategy for research for SJOGHC as Group Research Coordinator.

He is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Surgery at the University of Western Australia and at Notre Dame Medical School. He is a member of Research Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia. He has been involved in human research ethics since 2002 as a member of a Human Research Ethics Committee and in the Harmonisation of Multicentre Ethical Review processes at a national level. He was a member of the Australian Health Ethics Committee from 2006-2012. He is chair of the Biobank working group for the Global Summit of National Ethics Committees operated by the World Health Organisation.

He is the chair of the Cancer Biology Group of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia and the Biological sub-committee of the Australasian Gastro-intestinal Trials Group and a member of the Research and Data Advisory Committee of Cancer Australia. He is the Australian representative on the Ethics and Policy Committee of the International Cancer Genome Consortium and a founding member of the Australasian Biospecimen Network. He is co-chair of the Science Policy Committee of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER).