Research Autopsy Center at Stanford

"Research autopsy provides an opportunity for patients to pass the torch to us…we can continue their fight against disease, even after they pass on."

The Research Autopsy Center, which is part of the Department of Pathology at Stanford University, arranges and performs autopsies on an urgent basis to collect tumor and other tissues for researchers in many different areas of study. Specimens collected after death have been used to grow living cell lines which can be used to evaluate for genetic mutations and test new chemotherapies. Samples can also undergo genetic sequencing and RNA expression analysis, as well as immunohistochemical and proteomic studies. The scientific data obtained from research autopsy tissue is an extremely powerful tool to advance scientific discovery.

Why Research Autopsy?

Postmortem tissue collection provides completely unique research opportunities. Samples can be taken for cancer or disease that has

  • become locally aggressive
  • developed resistance to treatment, and/or
  • spread throughout the body

Multiple body sites can be sampled in large quantities and new sites of tumor spread can be found that were not detected during life; these areas can also be sampled for research. 

Patients or family members sign the Study Consent for participation in the Research Autopsy program before the patient's passing. The autopsy consent, giving permission for the procedure itself, can be signed by the patient before death or the legal next of kin after the patient passes.

Arrangements can be made to transport patients who pass away in hospice care or at home to the hospital by a funeral service at no cost to the family. Researchers and the program also pay the cost of performance of the autopsy itself.

The Value of Research Autopsy Donation

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