Cord Blood For Research

Processing Cord Blood for Research

Umbilical cord blood can be a valuable source for stem cell and regenerative medicine research. OHSU has a cord blood repository available to investigators with IRB-approved studies.


The Cord Blood Donation Program of Oregon and the Doernbecher Foundation have established a Cord Blood Donation Program at OHSU. The program collects cord blood donations for inclusion in a worldwide donor registry. About two thirds of the donations do not meet the criteria for inclusion in the registry, and investigators in Oregon with IRB-approved studies can access these units for a very small fee to cover the cost of recovery and shipping.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cord blood?

Cord blood is the blood that is contained within the placental space and umbilical cord segment. This blood is usually discarded along with the placental remnants after the delivery. Cord blood is rich in hematopoietic progenitors (committed and not committed) and mesenchymal stem cells. Cord blood can used for bone marrow transplantation to treat malignant and nonmalignant disorders. It represents the source for ~40% of pediatric BMTs and ~10% of adult BMTs. Cord blood progenitor cells may also be the ideal source for regenerative medicine studies. Many investigators are testing the potential of these cells to generate all sorts of tissues. Advantages that cord cells have over adult donor stem cell sources are: 1) they are more immunologically naïve, thus allowing more flexibility in the degree of HLA matching needed for transplant, 2) they are readily available and can be collected without invasive procedures (such as taking a donor to the operating room for a bone marrow harvest).


Who can donate cord blood?

Requirements for donating cord blood are women 18 years or older:

    • with a singleton pregnancy and
    • who have provided consent a priori and pass a basic screening questionnaire for blood banking.

We at OHSU are taking care of 1) informing the community about the program and the importance of public donation (versus private storage), 2) consenting & screening donor mothers, 3) collecting the cord blood units, 4) shipping the units to the Puget Sound Blood Center in Seattle for processing and storage.


How are cord blood specimens collected?

Cord blood is collected following strict blood banking guidelines under sterile conditions. It is a very simple procedure. Staff at Labor & Delivery have received special training about how to perform cord blood collections. After the baby is born and the cord is clamped and cut, the remaining blood left in the placenta is collected by inserting a Vacutainer needle in the distal aspect of the cord and pooling in a sealed blood bank bag. The bag is then transported at room temperature to the blood bank within 24-36 hours. The red cells and plasma are then removed, preservative is added, and the unit is cryopreserved in dedicated storage freezers. The units are good for decades. Viability of thawed cells is usually very high. About 1/3 of the units collected meet the high standards for inclusion in the National Cord Blood Inventory for potential clinical use for marrow transplantation. The remaining units are de-identified and made available for research. Subjects have been asked to give consent for this activity.

Who can access these cord blood specimens?

Investigators in Oregon who have IRB-approved studies can access the cord blood units. Contact us for more information.


How can I learn more about the program?

Contact us for more information.  Additional information about the program is also available at the following links.