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NTP Archives, NIEHS Repository Form Rare Resource

Suppose a scientist wants to review microscope slides from a rodent study of a chemical tested several years ago. Or a researcher wants to apply new technology to tissue from a study done 10 years ago or more. Those are tall orders. Surely once a study is completed, the materials are discarded, right? Not at all! All those materials and a considerable amount of other data are readily available to researchers for many of the studies conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program.

NIEHS and NTP archives facility in Research Triangle Park — Behind these streamlined exteriors are toxicology data and materials that are available to researchers all over the world.

Just up the road from NIEHS headquarters in Research Triangle Park, N.C., are the NIEHS Specimen Repository and the National Toxicology Program Archives operated by Experimental Pathology Laboratories, Inc. Behind the streamlined fronts of the newly relocated leased facilities at Keystone Park are expansive collections of microscope slides, tissue samples both preserved and frozen, human urine and blood samples, cartons of paper data and microfiche film. The carefully organized collection representing thousands of studies has facilities to accommodate its many visitors, more than 30,000 since it opened at an older facility in 1985.

Senior NIEHS scientists see the growing collection as a major resource, both for researchers seeking to review and analyze results of already completed studies, and for those applying new technologies and knowledge to materials already available. The size of the collection is impressive — the NTP archive alone holds 14.4 million pages of study data on microfiche, 8 to 10 million microscope slides, over 5,800 boxes of paraffin blocks and over 3,950 boxes of wet tissues from studies.

Project officer for the NTP Archives is Dr. Robert Maronpot, and for the NIEHS specimen repository, Jane Lambert. Dr. Melvin H. Hamlin is laboratory director for both archives.

Paul Sanders, unit supervisor, works with trays of microscope slides from current and past NTP studies, from the collection of approximately 8 to 10 million slides.

Laboratory director Dr. Mel Hamlin shows the walk-in freezer where 30,000 human specimens used in studies by Drs. Allen Wilcox and Donna Baird of NIEHS's Epidemiology Branch are maintained. Analysis of these samples has revealed a number of new findings about pregnancy and fertility.

Maureen Puccini, photo microscopist, makes photographs, both digital and conventional, from microscope slides of interesting lesions.

The stainless steel liquid nitrogen freezers at left maintain a temperature of minus 150 to 190 degrees Centigrade. The mechanical freezers at right keep materials frozen at minus 20 or minus 80 degrees Centigrade.

Hamlin examines archive of cartons of formalin-fixed tissue from NTP studies.

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