Getting Started with Translational Core



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Working with us is easy. Here are the steps to get started:

Register in ilab
Step 01

Register within iLab.

Pricing Inquiry
Step 02

If your project involves CBC and/or clinical chemistry tests, you may order or get pricing from iLab. Otherwise, renx [at] (contact the TCL director) or submit a Pricing or General Inquiry via iLab. Based on the project information, the TCL will design a test plan and provide a cost estimate. The TCL will also provide a sample collection guide.

Step 03

Your iLab service request will be processed. Or, if you agree with the cost estimate, TCL will send you a service request via iLab for you to approve. You will need a valid payment method (Lawson account number or PO#) associated with your iLab account to request or approve service requests.

Submit a sample
Step 04

Submit samples. All samples must be accompanied by a sample submission form. Please pay close attention to sample submission instructions on the timing and temperature requirements.

Data will be received in both PDF and Excel formats.

Please address all laboratory service inquiries/requests to Dr. Sean Ren, Technical Director of TCL, at [email protected] or 215-590-4765 (ext. 44765).

For work orders, please let us know the name of tests/processes, the quantity for each test, sample type, and how many aliquots for each sample you will provide. When a single tube for each sample is submitted for multiple immunoassay tests, we very often have to thaw the samples, make aliquots for each sample, and refreeze them so assays can be performed one-by-one. This will incur extra charge (for sample aliquoting), and may affect data reliability as freeze-thaw may destablize certain analytes.

For grant applications, please let us know the duration of the study (time needed to collect all the samples) in addition to test name and quantity. Based on your specific project information, a test platform will be recommended with the cost estimate and sample requirements. Special sample collection guidance may be provided. TCL recommends storing multiple (3-4) aliquots for each sample for each immunoassay test to avoid freeze-thaw and to facilitate re-runs and/or lot-to-lot comparisons. We also ask PIs to consider analyte stability during storage when designing their study or biobanking. This is important as the TCL receives samples that have passed their safe storage time. Depending on the analyte, the “safe storage time” can be as short as 1-2 months, or even cannot be frozen.  Thus a -80C freezer is by no means a safe box for your samples! Batch testing should be planned for less stable analytes, and lot-to-lot bridging should be planned accordingly.

Please note that CHOP TCL is not CLIA certified, thus our test results and lab procedures will be for Research Use Only, and will not be qualified for clinical use.

Specimen collection is of vital importance to a successful research. TCL works closely with the Center for Human Phenomic Science (CHPS) Research Nursing Core to ensure that the samples are correctly collected, processed, aliquoted, labeled, stored, shipped and/or inventoried. TCL should be consulted at the stage of grant application and before subject enrollment to ensure that the samples that come to TCL for testing are of the correct sample type, have sufficient volume, and are stored in multiple aliquots. Some tests will require timely processing at a special temperature, or need to add certain chemicals to stabilize the analyte at the time of sample collection. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the study team have a start-up meeting with TCL to finalize the sample collection, processing and delivery details before the subject recruiting starts.

TCL will have a startup meeting with the research coordinator before the enrollment starts. The startup meeting is preceded by a sample collection guide from Dr. Ren. This sample collection guide contains information on the compatible sample types, aliquot volume, and the number of aliquots needed for each test. This information will be used by the Research Nursing Core (such as the Center for Human Phenomic Science (CHPS) at CHOP and PENN) to decide which blood tubes to use, how much blood to draw, as well as how much CHPS will charge the study.

Whole blood specimen for CBC, PBMC, or DNA extraction will be submitted to TCL in the original blood tube in “real time” (a couple of hours after blood draw). Most other specimens are aliquoted by the Research Nursing Core staff into 2-mL cryovials. Depending on the project or test requirements, these vials are either delivered to TCL in “real time” by the research coordinator or are stored at CHPS. Sample storage at CHPS is managed using database software called LIMS (Laboratory Information Management Software).

For sample submission to TCL, please give the Core a 24-hr notice via email ([email protected]) and deliver samples before 1p.m. These “real time” samples will either be tested or processed on the same day (e.g., CBC, PBMC, blood for DNA, etc.), or be stored temporarily at TCL and be tested in a few weeks' time. After the test is completed, the vials containing the leftover sample will be discarded. However, PIs can request to take the used samples to his/her own storage space. CHPS will not take these samples back.

Samples to be tested annually (or at longer intervals) as well as the back-up vials will be stored at CHPS (and may be transferred to the Biorepository for long-term storage). Please note that it is the study team's responsibility to keep track of these samples as to when to test them. When the time comes, the study team will send sample pull request to CHPS, which will deliver the samples on dry ice to TCL by the research coordinator. It is strongly advised that sample pull request should follow the LIMS sequence to avoid pull errors. TCL will check the samples against the submission form to verify each sample entry. Once again, these samples will not be returned to CHPS after the testing is done at TCL, and they are usually discarded.

CHOP and UPenn PIs do not need to register, as they have been assigned an iLab account and their funds are available in the system. Other users must complete a one-time iLab registration indicating what PI lab they work in. 

External users who need to submit a PO can do so by either registering the PO or entering it directly in iLab. This document will walk you through the steps.

UPenn users will need the following info to request a PO#: Supplier # (49513), Supplier Name (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), and  Site Name (PHILA-200).

External users who will pay by credit card please email Dr. Ren.

All samples submitted to TCL must be accompanied by a sample submission form and show the correct account number (complete/partial Lawson Activity Number or PO#). Sample submission form in the Excel format can be requested via email ([email protected]).

Frozen samples should be delivered to TCL on dry ice to avoid thawing.  For fresh samples that require same day processing (e.g., isolation of PBMCs, DNA extraction, biochemistry/chemistry, hematology, or certain special processing), please notify us as early as possible by email ([email protected]) and submit samples before 1 PM so that our staff can have sufficient time to process. The CHOP Translational Core Laboratory is at Room 1203, Abramson Research Center (ARC) (do not confuse with Abramson Cancer Center of UPENN). TCL does not accept samples in the after-hours or weekends.

If there is no one in the lab when you come in, you may leave your samples in the designated area depending on the temperature requirement (room temperature or refrigerated).  However, you must immediately inform TCL in email or follow up by phone that you have dropped off samples.  Your sample submission is NOT completed until one of TCL staff acknowledges the receipt of your sample(s).

TCL freezers are equipped with a sophisticated temperature monitoring system. TCL staff will be notified in case of emergency, either during regular work hours or after hours; we will take the necessary steps to safeguard the samples. Samples submitted to TCL for testing or processing can be stored up to 3 months after the test/processing is completed. After that the samples must be transferred to a long-term storage (PI's freezer) or be discarded.

TCL can assist with shipping samples to the designated receiver. Alternatively, CHOP has a Shipping Core that specializes in sample shipping.