Human Developmental Biology Resource (HDBR)

How researchers can use the HDBR

If you are a researcher interested in using embryonic or fetal tissue from the HDBR in developmental research, the steps are:

Register your project with the HDBR

You can download a registration form via the Apply page or by emailing the Resource Manager at or To ensure that tissue samples are used with the maximum effectiveness, potential recipients of material from the HDBR need to provide information on how that material is to be used and to agree to a number of conditions. The registration form includes a 100 to 200-word summary of the background to the proposed project and what you expect to achieve using the embryonic and/or fetal tissue.

Your registration and request for access to tissue will first be considered by a local committee at either the London or Newcastle centres. All registrations are reviewed at a biannual joint steering committee meeting of the HDBR.

A material transfer agreement needs to be in place before tissue can be sent out.  The HDBR sites can extend their ethical approval as tissue banks to projects that are being carried out within the UK and that fall within the project remit of the HDBR (primarily these cover gene expression studies).  Projects outside the UK will need to follow their local ethical and other governance regulations for use of embryonic and fetal human tissue and supply documentary evidence of this to the Resource Manager ( or before material can be released to you.

Requests to use the In House Gene Expression Service (IHGES) can be made at the same time as registration or at anytime during a project.

Priority research areas

The HDBR joint steering committee has decided that the material is to be made available for gene expression studies and for cell culture work. Within gene expression studies, priority will be given to work on the following areas:

  • A known disease gene that is likely to have an informative expression pattern. Genes that are expected to have ubiquitous or widespread expression are not expected to have high priority. 
  • Genes that are expected to be important in early development and whose expression patterns might be informative. For example, genes that produce interesting and relevant phenotypes in model organisms, but are not known to be disease genes.
  • Genes that can be expected to be important in human- or primate-specific functions, such as cognitive function, language, etc.
  • Genes that have been shown to be associated with significant anatomical, or functional, differences between mice and humans. 

Publications arising from HDBR material

All publications arising from the use of material provided by the HDBR must acknowledge the contribution of the HDBR tissue bank within the manuscript. We would also encourage the publication of data within open access journals, a list of which can be found at