Director: Fouad Boulos, MD
Director of Clinical Operations: Laura Severs
Clinical Laboratory Manager: Autumn Watson

Phone: 314-747-2086

Location: West Building 4718-4721

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The Anatomic and Molecular Pathology Core Labs (AMP Labs) is a CAP/CLIA certified resource that provides clinical and research services in anatomic pathology. This site focuses on our research activities.

The Histology Lab performs paraffin embedding of fixed tissues or cell blocks, sectioning of paraffin or frozen blocks, and a wide variety of histochemical staining procedures.

The Immunohistochemistry Lab performs immunostaining of fixed and embedded human tissues, usually by immunoperoxidase techniques on the Ventana Benchmark Ultra platform. The lab has automated testing protocols for a large number of well-characterized clinical antibodies.

The Molecular Pathology lab provides resources for molecular and genetic analysis of fresh or fixed and embedded tissues. At present, these services are limited to departmental faculty and trainees.


Service available to: Washington University only.

Priority service given to: Clinical testing and intra-departmental translational research.  However, selected extra-departmental translational research projects and clinical trials are supported by prior agreement; this requires a collaborating departmental investigator.

Research services and pricing

  • Tissue processing and paraffin embedding
  • Microtomy to generate tissue sections
  • H & E and special histochemical stains
  • Immunohistochemistry (IHC, immunoperoxidase) on formalin fixed and paraffin embedded human tissues

View our billing policies »

Antibody/probe availability and prices as of 10/1/23

For planning, note that pricing for Ventana antibodies and reagents increases by approximately 3% once each year.

AntibodyCloneAntibody Cost / Slide
C-kit (CD117)YR145$5.64
CA19-9121 SLE$3.36
CDX – 2EPR2764Y$5.97
CEA (Monoclonal)TF 3H8-1$3.36
CK 5/6D5/16B4$4.35
CK-CAM 5.2CAM 5.2$3.99
CK8/18B22.1 & B22.3$4.13
Collagen Type IVCIV22$3.36
Cyclin D1SP4-R$5.97
D2-40 (podoplanin)D2-40$5.97
E-Cadherin EP700Y$5.99
Factor XIIIaAC-1A1$5.30
GATA3 L50-823$4.54
Glycophorin AGA-R2$5.97
Granzyme Bpolyclonal$5.97
Hepar 1OCH1E5$5.47
INI-1 (BAF47/SNF5)MRQ-27$4.77
Melan AA103$5.19
MS ActinHHF35$3.36
Napsin Apolyclonal$5.99
SV40 (BK & JC Virus) MRQ-4$8.21
 ISH probes
 Kappa light chain –$23.94
 Lambda light chain –$23.94
 EBER –$23.94
Prices for routine histology

Cost-based Pricing as of 10/1/23

Starting materialServicePrice*
Formalin-fixed tissue in cassetteProcessing and embedding$6.20 per block
Paraffin blockUnstained section$4.71 per slide
Formalin-fixed tissue in cassetteHematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain$18.06 per slide
Unstained sectionHematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain$7.32 per slide
Unstained sectionManual special stain$30.09 per slide
Unfixed tissueUnstained frozen sectionInquire
Unfixed tissueStained frozen sectionInquire
Prices for immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization

Cost-based pricing as of 10/1/23

ServiceAssay UsedPrice Per Slide*
Immunoperoxidase of unstained sections of formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissuePreviously optimized assay with Core antibody (with Ultraview detection, CC1 retrieval, and no amplification)$23.22 + actual cost of antibody used
Immunoperoxidase of unstained sections of formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissuePreviously optimized assay with antibody provided by user (with Ultraview detection, CC1 retrieval, and no amplification)$23.22
OptimizationAutomated or manual assay with antibody provided by userInquire**
In Situ HybridizationPreviously optimized assay with Core probesPrice pending

*  Each run also requires at least one positive tissue control, preferably with internal negative controls. Control slides are charged at the same price per slide as above. Additional charges accrue if the protocol requires non-standard ancillary reagents, e.g., amplification ($4.00/slide) or CC2 for antigen retrieval ($1.50/slide).  Note that the costs of Ventana antibodies and ancillary reagents alone predictably increase by 3% per year and these additional costs should be considered when preparing the budget.

As discussed elsewhere, pricing for tests for clinical trials is adjusted to also include costs for a lab administrative component, which will be determined during trial implementation. For most trials this is approximately 20% of the cost of the test.

** Investigators must consult in advance with the Laboratory Manager, Director, or IHC Research technologist. Charges include an initial optimization fee, a run charge based on the number of slides, and charges for Ventana dispensers/prep kits and any non-standard ancillary reagents. The initial optimization/set-up fee is $1200 for a non-Ventana antibody; the time required for optimization is highly variable and success cannot be guaranteed. The optimization fee is reduced to $470 for non-Core Ventana antibodies and waived for non-Core Ventana antibodies with a BJH or DPC Ventana Ultra protocol.

Prices for tissue microarray

TMA orders are only accepted after prior approval of the project and with a collaborating pathologist to assist in TMA design. Lab functions are limited to the fabrication of previously designed arrays. Because priority must be given to clinical testing, there is no guaranteed turnaround time. Please see the TMA FAQ. The charge for tissue microarrays is per core, regardless of the number of paraffin blocks or cores per block. In addition, an initial technical setup charge and/or hourly pathologist charges will usually apply; an estimate can be provided. The rates for unstained slides and histochemical or immunohistochemical stains are the same as above.

View procedures for initiating a new clinical trial »

View procedures for obtaining lab services for drug eligibility studies »


  • Automated rapid and standard tissue processors
  • Leica embedding stations
  • Vantage-driven cassette and slide labeling
  • Microtomy stations
  • Leica autostainers
  • Leica and Microm cryostats
  • Ventana Benchmark Ultra autostainers

Specimen requirements and handling

Guidelines for handling & fixation of tissues


The quality of assays performed on fixed and paraffin-embedded tissues is influenced by many pre-analytical factors including the type of fixative, the efficiency and duration of fixation, and the conditions of tissue processing.  For any clinical or research study, it is important to control as many of these variables as possible. For most clinical investigations or clinical trials it is desirable to have biospecimens harvested, fixed, and processed in the same manner as clinical biopsies or excisions.

To this end, the AMP Core Labs has implemented protocols for tissue processing and embedding that closely resemble those used by the pathology labs at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and many (most) other clinical settings. However, initial handling and the initiation of tissue fixation are usually performed by the submitter.

In general, fixation of tissues in the clinical setting relies on standardized commercial preparations of 10% neutral buffered formalin (NBF).   This is a ready-to-use solution of approximately 4% formaldehyde that contains buffer salts and a small amount of methanol.  Buffering is required to minimize time-dependent acidification, which can be deleterious to tissues, while the methanol is required to minimize time dependent polymerization of formaldehyde, which diminishes the efficiency of fixation. Despite these precautions, the fixative has a finite shelf-life, and must be used prior to the indicated expiration date, usually within 2 years of manufacture.

Sources of formalin

The most widely used and reliable source of neutral buffered 10% formalin is Richard-Allan Scientific.  It can be obtained from a large number of different distributors, including Thermo Fisher Scientific. However, several distributors prepackage the fixative in small, polypropylene containers with an inner seal and a 90 ml volume of fixative; this is suitable for most types of small biopsies. Barnes-Jewish Hospital and WU Pathology Services purchase their pre-filled containers from Cardinal Health.

This product provides a safe primary transport container and eliminates the need for staff to handle the fixative. It is important to stock no more NBF than can be used within the estimated shelf-life, to insure reproducible fixation.

Guidelines for formalin fixation of specimens

  1. Fixation conditions should be standardized as much as possible. Ideally, tissues should be fixed in formalin for 16-24 hours or more at room temperature to achieve complete penetration and stable crosslinking. Under-fixation is usually more deleterious than over-fixation. Note: the current CAP mandated minimum fixation time for clinical assessment of predictive biomarkers for breast cancer (i.e., ER, PR, and Her-2 receptor expression) is 6 hours, with a maximum time of 72 hours.
  2. Tissues should be immersed as soon as possible but within one hour of removal from the body. If absolutely necessary tissues can be briefly placed on a saline moistened gauze sponge; however, even brief placement of a small biopsy on a dry surface can be deleterious.
  3. For all clinical studies, including clinical trials, the time of the procedure and the total formalin fixation time must be documented on the requisition and/or specimen container.
  4. Tissues should be < 3 mm in thickness to help insure rapid fixation. Although needle or core biopsies do not usually present problem, tissue blocks obtained from larger specimens should be carefully trimmed.
  5. After complete fixation in formalin, some research tissues can be safely transferred to 70% ethanol at 4 deg C until processing. As indicated above, under-fixation should be avoided. Note that premature transfer to ethanol can permit reversal of some crosslinks with underprocessing during tissue processing.
  6. Formalin is the only fixative validated for clinical immunohistochemistry, interphase FISH, or next generation sequencing. For predictive biomarker studies in the clinical setting, alternative fixatives, post-fixation storage in ethanol, and/or decalcification cannot be used without prior validation or appropriate disclaimers on the report.

Precautions when working with formalin

Formalin is a hazardous solution that fixes by gradually penetrating the tissue and crosslinking proteins. Inhalation and physical contact should be minimized. It is important to wear appropriate personal protective equipment and consult with the manufacturer’s MSDS before handling. At a minimum, gloves and eye protection are recommended when working with open containers of formalin.

Required procedures for submission of clinical specimens

All specimens submitted for lab services must be properly transported to the lab.

Transport for referred clinical testing at Washington University Medical Center is coordinated by Diagnostic Laboratory Services (DLS).

Clinical research specimens obtained in BJH operating or procedure rooms will usually be delivered by the study coordinator or via the Tissue Repository according to a pre-determined schedule. Transport is coordinated by the study coordinator or designee, not by lab staff.

Regardless of origin, all specimens submitted to the lab must be accompanied by a pre-approved requisition that contains all required identifiers. Note: Clinical trials use a requisition form designed to meet the needs of the trial. However, the requisition must always include the name of the research study or clinical trial, the name of the principal investigator, and the approved unique patient identifiers (usually a pre-assigned patient ID number).

Specimens for clinical testing will only be accepted from approved health care providers. The lab provides no direct to patient testing. Specimens for clinical trials will only be accepted from a registered lab user. Requisitions must always include the full name, title, e-mail address, phone and fax numbers of the submitter(s), i.e. the contact person or physician at the submitting facility.

A “specimen inventory” must be provided; i.e., the specific specimens submitted for analysis must be enumerated and described on the appropriate requisition.The type of fixative and date and time of initial fixation should also be recorded.

Each primary specimen container must have an easily legible, water-proof label affixed to the side of container (not the lid). The label must include: a) required unique patient identifiers, and b) any specimen identifiers if more than one sample is submitted for the same patient. Specimens for clinical trials must also include the study name or number.

Specimens lacking the required information cannot be accessioned, resulting in potential delays. These issues will be brought to the attention of the Lab Manager, Director of Clinical Operations, or Lab Director.

General shipping and packaging information

The Lab does not coordinate shipping of research specimens from outside sites but recommends the following:

Packaging, labeling, and shipping are always subject to the relevant International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations applicable to diagnostic specimens. The sender should be advised to consult with their institution’s EH&S office or shipping department for more information.

Wet-fixed specimens do not usually require any specific thermal protection. However, paraffin-embeded tissue blocks or unfixed tissues in saline should be shipped with a frozen gel ice-pack during the warmer months.

As an additional precaution against misidentification of a specimen, no more than one patient’s specimen(s) should be shipped per package.

Instructions for packing “wet”, fixed or unfixed specimens for shipping

General policies

Any fresh tissues  or tissues in fixative are considered diagnostic specimens for purposes of transport. All specimens require secure packaging, individual specimen labels with required identifiers, and an approved requisition containing all required information.

Transport for referred clinical testing at Washington University Medical Center is coordinated by Diagnostic Laboratory Services (DLS).

Clinical specimens that originate within the Medical Center must use approved specimen containers and be transported by trained pathology transport staff.

The primary container must be a labeled screw top container with a water proof seal. Commercial, pre-filled specimen containers are ideal.  These container(s) should then be placed within a sealable plastic transport bag (e.g., Ziploc) or other approved secondary container.

Research specimens can be hand-delivered to the lab by WU investigators using appropriately labeled primary containers and packaging (see below) and the approved order form.

Clinical or research specimens delivered from outside  the Medical  Center are subject to IATA and DOT regulations and require appropriate, primary, secondary and outer packaging depending on the contents and carrier (see below).  Access Courier is used by BJH and WU Pathology Services.

General guidelines for off-site shipping

The following guidelines are based on CDC recommendations, and are only a guide.  Submitters are responsible for insuring full regulatory compliance by following shipping instructions provided to approved submitters.

Primary packaging

The primary container must be a labeled screw top container with a water proof seal. Commercial, pre-filled specimen containers are ideal. As an additional precaution, the lid should be secured with tape or Parafilm. These container(s) should then be placed within a sealable plastic transport bag (e.g., Ziploc).

For commercial transport, the primary containers should be individually wrapped in sealable plastic bags containing absorbent material; this material will protect the contents from breakage and absorb any leaked contents.

There are volume and weight restrictions for primary containers, but these far exceed the usual specimen shipment.  (The liquid volume or solid weight of primary containers must not exceed 4L or 4 kg; individual primary containers cannot contain more than 1L of liquid.)

Secondary packaging

Use additional and sufficient absorbent material around the primary packaging in the secondary packaging to absorb the entire contents of all primary containers in case of leakage or damage.

Secondary packaging must meet the IATA packaging requirements for diagnostic specimens including 1.2 meter (3.9 feet) drop test procedure.

The secondary container must also be large enough for all markings, labels, and shipping documents (e.g., air waybill).

Leak-proof cold packs must be placed inside insulated packaging, for example Styrofoam box. Outer packaging will be necessary for such packages, as described below.

Outer packaging

An overpack must be used if cold packs are used OR if the secondary packaging is not large enough for all the labels, markings, and documents.

An itemized list of contents must be enclosed just inside the outermost packaging layer, and placed in a sealed plastic bag to protect from moisture.

Labeling of outermost packaging

Each package and the air waybill must be marked with the name, address, and telephone number of the responsible person submitting the package.

For purposes of shipping, both research and clinical specimens should be considered diagnostic specimens. Each package must be labeled as “BIOLOGICAL SUBSTANCE, CATEGORY B” and “UN 3373” in the “Nature and Quantity of Goods” box on the air waybill and outer packaging.

Note: additional packaging and labeling regulations apply in the event dry ice is included or for any international shipments.

Shipping address and directions for couriers

All specimens should be addressed to:

AMP Core Labs
Washington University School of Medicine
Department of Pathology & Immunology
425 S. Euclid Ave, Campus Box 8024
4th Floor West Bldg, St Louis, MO 63110

Couriers can deliver specimens directly to Lab 4721 on the 4th floor of the West Building at the South Medical Campus.

Special instructions

Services for clinical trials involving predictive biomarkers

The histology and immunohistochemistry areas are organized and equipped to perform laboratory testing for predictive biomarker assays in support of approved clinical trials. Lab management can assist investigators in the early phases of trial development by providing: assay protocols for approved tests, technical and workflow information, and cost estimates.

Predictive biomarkers

The existing test menu includes selected assays of hormone receptor expression and tumor cell proliferation.

Regulatory environment

The Labs are CAP/CLIA-certified and HIPAA compliant. Beyond regulatory compliance, the Labs have a “total test” philosophy that attempts to standardize or define as many variables as possible. This extends from recommendations regarding initial tissue handling and fixation, to standardized processing and embedding, section preparation, and immunostaining.

In vitro diagnostic tests on the Ventana platform

The Labs support selected basic and translational investigations, often employing new immunologic reagents and/or protocols. However, clinical testing is largely restricted to internally verified FDA-approved reagents on the automated Ventana Medical Systems platform.

Accessioning and tracking

Specimens for approved clinical studies can enter the lab in at least 2 ways: as archived paraffin tissue blocks, or as recently harvested tissues in fixative.  The latter tissues are transferred from the Tissue Repository and accessioning in CaTissue. Specimens for trials administered at the Medical Center are accessioned into WU Research CoPath, under the licensing agreement of CoPath Plus with Barnes-Jewish Hospital. However, the anonymized specimens can also be tracked from accessioning through completion of testing via the Lab’s browser-based tracking system, with automatic email notifications at critical steps of the process.

Pathology support

The Core Labs performs predictive biomarker assays and carefully monitors the quality of each assay. However, lab personnel do not interpret or analyze the data. Interpretation rests with the designated pathologist(s) that are co-investigators supported by the grant or contract. The pathologist is usually an attending surgical pathologist in the Division of Anatomic and Molecular Pathology. Results are reported via WU Research CoPath, as for diagnostic specimens.

Detailed contact information

Location & hours of operation: The lab is located at the South Medical Campus on the 4th floor of the West Building (4715 and Suite 4718-4721). Lab services in support of research activities are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

General lab e-mail:

Clinical Laboratory Manager:
Autumn Watson
Phone: 314-362-7468
Fax: 314-747-5642

CLIA laboratory director:
Directed by: Fouad Boulos, MD
Phone: 314-362-1302
Fax: 314-362-1461

Cytopathology research
Directed by: Cory Bernadt, MD, PhD
Staffed by: Xiaopei Zhu
Phone: 314-747-1069
Fax: 314-747-5642

Molecular pathology research
Directed by: John Pfeifer, MD, PhD
Staffed by: Xiaopei Zhu
Phone: 314-747-1069
Fax: 314-747-5642

Mailing/shipping address:
AMP Core Labs
Washington University School of Medicine
Department of Pathology & Immunology
425 S. Euclid Ave, Campus Box 8024
4th Floor West Bldg, St Louis, MO 63110