Who We Are

The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute has grown rapidly to become one of the largest and most important hospital-based research institutions in Canada and with this growth comes the development of our new Biorepository A biorepository is a cryogenic storage facility used to store biological samples for use in research. .

The facility is located in the Loeb building at the Civic Campus, of The Ottawa Hospital (map) and officially opened in January 2012 with the transfer of 86,000 samples from the pilot phase of the Ontario Health Study.

Along with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (OAHPP), and the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI), the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Biorepository is currently facilitating the Ontario Health Study (OHS), a major ongoing research study that is investigating risk factors associated with disease, by processing, accessioning Accession: the act of entering a specimen’s demographic and clinical information into the collection's database; to log or document receipt of a specimen in the lab and storing all of its biospecimens.

One of the major goals of the Biorepository is to make a state-of-the-art facility available to researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and to help promote the safe handling, receipt, storage, inventory control, packaging and distribution for all sample types, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Biorepository is an extremely valuable resource for researchers and has the capability to track and store hundreds of thousands of biological samples in vapour-phase liquid nitrogen.


The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Biorepository is a large-scale operation with a 1,200 square foot facility located in the basement of the Loeb building of The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus. The facility is currently outfitted with six top-of-the-line cryogenic freezers, each with a 90,000 sample capacity. These high-efficiency vapour storage freezers are monitored to ensure temperature and liquid nitrogen levels are maintained within specified parameters. The Biorepository also utilizes a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), BioBank, which enables staff to archive, trace, and manage sample and laboratory information. This ensures complete traceability on samples and associated information.

Additional Equipment

Our facility is equipped with two cryogenic carts or cyrocarts that allow for the reception of large quantities of specimens; the liquid nitrogen cryocarts are portable work benches that maintain the -190°C temperature for up to eight hours. The carts have been specially designed to allow for the manipulation of samples in a liquid nitrogen environment without exposure to high temperatures. In addition to being a high-efficiency work bench, the cryocart has also been designed to allow for the safe transportation of large quantities of samples from one tank to another within the Biorepository.

Our facility is equipped with vapour shippers that can be made available to researchers for transport of frozen specimens to and from the biorepository. These vapour shippers are specifically designed for the safe transportation of samples and can maintain a temperature of -150°C for up to ten days. Liquid nitrogen is fully absorbed in a hydrophobic compound, so using vapour shippers does not fall under Transportation of Dangerous Goods Guidelines for liquid nitrogen regulations and shipments are given a "non-hazardous" classification.


The facility is key-card accessible to only Biorepository staff and is equipped with two security cameras. For sample security and personnel safety, the Biorepository is outfitted with a state-of-the-art oxygen monitoring system, with probes connected to a monitoring and alarm system. In the event of an alarm, staff of the Biorepository are on call 24/7 to ensure sample security and can respond to activated freezer alarms within 30 minutes of notification. Due to these precautions, the Biorepository is not a self-serve facility and all services will be completed solely by trained Biorepository staff.