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Oxford Radcliffe Biobank (ORB) logo

Oxford Radcliffe Biobank storage boxThe Oxford Radcliffe Biobank (ORB) is a research facility of the University of Oxford and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH FT). The ORB provides a simple and efficient way to collect and store samples according to regulatory requirements, and ensures fair access to the samples. In addition, the ORB offers a Human Tissue Authority-compliant sample hosting service for existing and on-going collections. 

In 2006 existing collections within the University of Oxford and the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust (now the OUH FT) were brought together under the ORB umbrella for the purpose of licensing by the Human Tissue Authority. Working closely with the University of Oxford Human Tissue Governance team, ORB provides the necessary governance and oversight for the maintenance and curation of these sample collections to ensure compliance with the Human Tissue Act 2004. 

Since 2014, ORB has moved away from generic biobanking to project-driven biobanking to ensure relevant samples are collected in a way that meets the requirements of the research being undertaken.

The ORB is licensed under the Human Tissue Authority, licence number 12217. The main site for the licence incorporates collections within the Nuffield Division of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, the Wetherall Institute of Molecular Medicine and the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences at the John Radcliffe Hospital. Satellite sites for the licence are located at the Churchill Hospital, and the University of Oxford Department of Pharmacology for collection under ORB ethics.


The aims of the Oxford Radcliffe Biobank are as follows:

  • To coordinate the collection and storage of human samples for translational research.
  • To act as a 'safe haven' for the collection and storage of human samples and data and as an 'honest broker' for the fair distribution of samples and data for research.
  • To facilitate and streamline access to high quality human samples in accordance with ethical and regulatory standards.
  • To increase knowledge and understanding of disease and disease progress in order to improve patient treatments and outcomes. 


The Oxford Radcliffe Biobank is funded by the University of Oxford, the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Digital Pathology themeCancer Research UK (CRUK) Oxford Cancer CentreNational Institute for Health and Care Research Thames Valley and South Midlands Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) and NIHR Research Capability Funding (NIHR RCF).


The governance structure of ORB comprises an operational management team, a tissue access committee and a Risk Management committee. 

The operational management team is responsible for the day-to-day activity of ORB. 

The ORB/OCHRe Tissue Access Committee is responsible for ensuring that requests for access to samples and data are from reputable sources and intended for use in ethical and scientifically valid research.

The Risk Management committee ensures that risks associated with the collection, storage and distribution of human tissue for research are identified and managed to maintain compliance with regulatory standards and long term sustainability.