Tissue processing and preparation

The Histology team at the Stem Cell Institute specialise in cutting and staining of frozen sections and paraffin wax embedded tissues for all Cambridge University researchers. They can provide advice and services on a wide range of molecular techniques as well as traditional tinctorial staining. They can give guidance on the fixation, processing, sectioning and downstream applications on a wide range of biological samples. 

The Histology Facility at the SCI has expanded its repertoire to incorporate novel methods to assist in all aspects of stem cell tissue research. Automated immunohistochemistry, in-situ hybridisation utilising both DNA and RNA probes, specific tinctorial stains e.g.  Giemsa for haemopoietic cells are now available. The facility can help with the design of tissue staining protocols using both chromogenic and fluorescence probes including double staining protocols for co-localisation of antibody targets. Researcher costs can be minimised with the introduction of tissue microarrays enabling staining of up to 100 samples on a single slide. Tissue culture samples can be processed to paraffin wax for downstream analysis.  The facility now provides a standard two week processing to H&E for most samples and can also offer an “urgent” service to meet those publishing deadlines. The histopathology team are happy to discuss all your tissue requirements and look forward to working with you.


The Histopathology Facility is based in the CSCR building in Tennis Court Road, Cambridge. It offers a service for paraffin processing and embedding of fixed and frozen samples. We also offer paraffin section cutting and cryostat sectioning of frozen samples. Automated haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining of slides is also available alongside may other techniques.

The facility is a well equipped histopathology laboratory with tissue processing, embedding, microtomy and cryotomy machines available for use by both histology staff and trained researchers.


The facility has embraced the automation of histological services and can offer automated staining for both tinctorial stains such as H&E and immunohistochemical staining including antigen retrieval techniques. We have automated coverslipping and can offer a bespoke services for most histological requests.


The Facility is staffed by experienced scientists & technicians who are happy to  consider ‘non-routine’ requests and offer advice to get the best results from your samples. we can train individuals in the use of histological equipment.


The Facility technical staff are experienced in histopathology and are happy to help researchers get the best from their samples.

The Histopathology Facility is run by Irina Pshenichnaya & Helen Skelton

Helen Skelton graduated from Cambridge University and has over twenty years’ experience of several disciplines including Histopathology, Pathology, Immunology & Microbiology.  She has worked for the Cambridge University Department of Veterinary Medicine,  the Cambridge University Department of Pathology and the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Centre Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, amongst others, undertaking both laboratory and field work.  She now assists the Stem Cell Histopathology Facility with her expertise alongside running the Histology laboratory at the Pathology Department.

Training in use of equipment is available to those who’d prefer to do their work themselves.

How to book

For further information regarding services provided by the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute Histopathology Core Facility, please contact: histopathology@stemcells.cam.ac.uk

Stem Cell Institute affiliated researchers can register to book equipment via PPMS system. https://ppms.eu/cam/?SCI

For all training requirements please e-mail Helen Skelton at hfs28@cam.ac.uk

Please send all requests for histology with a filled in electronic version of the following request form:

Download request form

Please see the following form for details of how to fill in the request form followed by an example of a completed form:

Download example request form 1

Download example request form 2

For design of tissue microarrays, setting up of large projects or the implementation of a novel assay please e-mail hfs28@cam.ac.uk 


Sara Lombardi ; Gabriella Honeth ; Christophe Ginestier ; Ireneusz Shinomiya ; Rebecca Marlow ; Bharath Buchupalli ; Patrycja Gazinska ; John Brown ; Steven Catchpole ; Suling Liu ; Ariel Barkan ; Max Wicha ; Anand Purushotham ; Joy Burchell ; Sarah Pinder ; Gabriela Dontu. Growth Hormone Is Secreted by Normal Breast Epithelium upon Progesterone Stimulation and Increases Proliferation of Stem/Progenitor Cells. Stem Cell Reports. 2014 Jun 3;2(6):780-93.

Gazinska P, Grigoriadis A, Brown JP, Millis R, Mera A, Gillett C, Holmberg L, Tutt A, Pinder SE. Comparison of basal-like triple-negative breast cancer defined by morphology, immunohistochemistry and transcriptional profiles. Mod Pathol. 2013 Jul;26(7):955-66

Brown JP, Chandra DA. Science Made Simple:Tissue Microarrays. BJU Int. 2013 Nov 22.

Provenzano E, Brown JP, Pinder SE. Pathological Controversies in Breast Cancer: Classification of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, Sentinel Lymph Nodes and Low Volume Metastatic Disease and Reporting of Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Specimens. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2012 Nov 27

Pinder SE, Brown JP, Gillett C, Purdie CA, Speirs V, Thompson AM, Shaaban AM; on behalf of the Translational Subgroup of the NCRI Breast Clinical Studies Group. The manufacture and assessment of tissue microarrays: suggestions and criteria for analysis, with breast cancer as an example. J Clin Pathol. 2012 Oct 19.

Brown JP, Pinder S.E. Ductal Carcinoma In Situ: Current Morphological AndMolecular Subtypes. Diagnostic Histopathology 2012. Volume 18, Issue 3, Pages 112–118, March 2012

Cariati M, Naderi A, Brown JP, Smalley MJ, Pinder SE, Caldas C, Purushotham AD. Alpha-6 integrin is necessary for the tumourigenicity of a stem cell-like sub-population within the MCF7 breast cancer cell line. Int J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;122(2):298-304.

Rens W., Moderegger K., Skelton H.F., Clarke O., Trifonov V. & Ferguson-Smith M. A. A procedure for image enhancement in chromosome painting Chromosome Research 2006 14:497-503

Rens W., Grutzner F., O’Brien P.C.M., Fairclough H.F., Graves J.A.M. & Ferguson-Smith M.A. Resolution and Evolution of the Duck-Billed Platypus Karyotype with a X1Y1X2Y2X3Y3X4Y4X5YMale Sex Chromosome constitution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 16.11.2004 vol 101:46 pp16257-16261

Rens W., O’Brien PCM., Fairclough H.F., Harman L., Graves JA.M. & Ferguson-Smith M.A. Reversal and Convergence in Marsupial Chromosome Evolution Cytogenetic and Genome Research 2003 102:282-290

Sirieix PS, O'Donovan M, Brown JP, Save V, Coleman N, Fitzgerald RC. Surface Expression of Minichromosome Maintenance Proteins Provides a Novel Method for Detecting Patients at Risk for Developing Adenocarcinoma in Barrett's Esophagus. Clin Cancer Res. 2003;9:2560-2566.

Book Contributions:

Pre-invasive Disease: pathogenesis and clinical management. Editor: Fitzgerald, R.C. 1st Edition, Chapter 20 Breast: Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS) J.P. Brown S.E.Pinder p421-436. Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2011: ISBN 978-1-4419-6693-3.

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