• the specimen’s medical, scientific, and historical7 significance.
  • the condition of the specimen and its fitness for the proposed use.
  • whether a proposed use would exhaust the research potential of the specimen.
  • whether the same research need might be met by another, less rare specimen or another source of specimens.
  • the importance of the public health or military need the proposed use aims to meet.

The JPC should also develop criteria for determining when a collection of specimens—rather than an individual sample—is unique or has special medical, scientific, or historic value, and for managing access to such collections.

The JPC does not have any specific policy regarding how the depletion of a repository specimen should be factored into decisions regarding access to it, beyond ensuring that all applicable retention requirements are met. That should change to ensure that the repository remains a resource for otherwise unobtainable material. The committee recommends that the JPC establish criteria for deciding whether to deplete a specimen to exhaustion. The criteria should be determined in close consultation with pathology subspecialty experts in and outside the JPC. Detailed recommendations are beyond the scope of the present committee’s task but the criteria may include such considerations as the following:

  • retaining a set percentage of the tissue-containing portion of a tissue block unless a designated repository officer authorizes its use.
  • retaining a set number of stained or unstained tissue sections from a specimen.
  • not permitting any specimens collected before a given date to be used for research without specific review of whether the need justifies depletion of the resource and without explicit authorization by a designated repository officer.
  • not disposing of any specimen collected before a given date, no matter its condition.

Access to Repository Materials

Permitting wide access to the JPC repository materials promotes the public good through the advancement of medical and scientific knowledge.


7The National Museum of Health and Medicine (http://www.medicalmuseum.mil) houses military pathology specimens with historical value and would be the authority on this question.

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