Specimen Core & Processing Lab Q&A


The Michigan Clinical Research Unit (MCRU) has a specimen collection, processing, and shipping core laboratory that supports both overnight stay and outpatient clinical research for all of our performance sites. We have a sophisticated electronic specimen freezer management and inventory system. We provide short term-storage.

This a list of frequently asked questions regarding the MCRU specimen laboratory assists in helping study teams align expectations for services, equipment, and supplies.


Q: What are the hours for the MCRU Specimen Processing Lab?

A: The lab is staffed from 7:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. All specimens should be dropped off in the lab by 5:45 p.m. to allow for proper processing and storage.

Q: Does the lab staff work weekends?

A: Yes.

Q: What type of equipment is standard for the MCRU Specimen Processing Lab?

A: We have both refrigerated and room temperature centrifuges, 4°C refrigerator, -30°C and -80°C freezers, microcentrifuges, water baths, dry baths, incubator, and an analytical scale.

Q: Is your equipment monitored?

A: Yes. Our freezers are electronically monitored 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Q: Is your equipment calibrated?

A: Yes. Our freezers, pipettes and scale are calibrated and maintained yearly by contracted services outside the University. Our centrifuges are calibrated and maintained annually by Beckman Coulter and our hoods are calibrated and maintained annually by University of Michigan Occupational Safety and Environmental Health.

Q: What happens if my study has specialized equipment?

A: If special equipment is needed, the MCRU Laboratory Supervisor will evaluate and make a decision on a case by case situation. Due to space constraints, most special or study specific equipment cannot be used in the MCRU Lab space.

Q: What type of processing does the MCRU lab perform?

A: We are basic pre-analytical lab. Our primary focus is to stabilize, store and/or ship specimens for later analysis.

Q: What happens if my study has specialized processing needs?

A: Typically, we try to work with every team and accommodate their needs. If special processing is needed, the MCRU Laboratory Supervisor and the study team will work together on a solution. 

Q: Is the MCRU Specimen Processing Lab a CLIA certified lab?

A: No.

Q: What type of specimen storage is available in the MCRU Specimen Processing Lab?

A: We can store specimens at 4°C, -30°C and -80°C freezers for 2-3 months OR up to two 2’’ freezers boxes, whichever comes first.

Q: Does MCRU have storage space available?

A: No. Dues to space constraints and the quantity of studies that MCRU services, we are unable to store kits, shipping supplies, and equipment.

Q: What time do FedEx and UPS pick up in the lab?

A: Both FedEx and UPS pick up at 5 p.m. sharp, Monday through Friday. If a shipment occurs outside of the standard pickup time, MCRU will happily process and package your shipment within normal business hours but the study team will be responsible for transporting their shipments to the later pick up locations located throughout the hospital.

Q: Does the MCRU Specimen Processing Lab have dry ice available?

A: Yes. We receive frequent and regular deliveries of dry ice. If your shipment is unusually large or you are expecting several shipments, please let us know ahead of time so we can plan to order extra if needed.

Q: Does MCRU courier specimens?

A: No. Each study team is responsible for the transport of their specimens between MCRU locations for storage and for pickups.

Q: Does MCRU Specimen Processing Lab provide transport containers?

A: No. Each study must provide a proper transport container (ie. Cooler or Styrofoam shipper) to transport specimens to other locations. If one is not available, the study team can call or email the lab staff to see if one is available to borrow and return.

Q: Does MCRU provide long-term storage for specimens?

A. No. Each study team is expected to pick up or ship specimens regularly. For studies that are looking to store quantities of samples for three months or longer, we recommend contacting the Central Biorepository (see Study and Data Management section) or MCRU laboratory supervisor Gayle Carroll per the guidance in the diagram below.

Questions and Disclaimer

Please contact Gayle Carroll if you have questions about the information included on this page.

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