The mission of NDRI is to provide human biospecimens to advance biomedical/bioscience research and development worldwide.

Founded in 1980 by Lee Ducat, the National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that provides human biospecimens to scientists in academic, corporate and independent research organizations throughout the world. We serve as a Human Tissue and Organ for Research Resource (HTORR). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported our work for more than 30 consecutive years. Our unparalleled tissue recovery network includes some 130 partners comprised of organ procurement organizations, eye banks, tissue banks and hospitals, and our biorepository facility is accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP). Utilizing the expertise of NDRI staff and that of our recovery partners, we provide anatomical structures, organs, and tissues with annotated data to support research across the full spectrum of disease and disability.

Since our founding, we have been committed to expanding the horizons of medical knowledge. We continue to do so today, with an array of programs designed to provide human tissues and organs to meet critical research needs. We are grateful for the support we receive from the National Institutes of Health and other public and private funding sources, from our expansive nationwide network of recovery partners, and through the generosity of patients and families who want to contribute to finding answers to today’s most pressing biomedical challenges.

1980 - National Diabetes Research Interchange
With a grant from the Pew Memorial Trust, Lee Ducat launches the National Diabetes Research Interchange prototype as a program of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International to provide human pancreas tissue for research. 
1981 - First Tissue Retrieval

NDRI retrieves its first human tissue — a placenta and umbilical cord from a diabetic mother — and delivers the tissue to scientists at the Connective Tissue Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.

1982 - Biorepository Established

Presbyterian-University of Pennsylvania Hospital agrees to house NDRI’s human biomaterial.

1984 - NDRI Receives First Grant

NDRI receives its first grant award from the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to serve as a research resource to the National Institutes of Health, and also opens two satellite centers to aid pancreatic islet cell research.

1985 - Islet Cell Transplantation Trials

NDRI provides human pancreas tissues for clinical trials on islet cell transplantation at Washington University in St. Louis.

1986 - NDRI Expands Mission

The National Diabetes Research Interchange becomes the National Disease Research Interchange, serving over 80 different diseases and putting the skills, expertise and unique business systems it had developed to work for the broader biomedical research community.

1987 - Human Tissue Collection Center

The National Cancer Institute support establishes a Human Tissue Collection Center at NDRI, and NDRI receives its first Human Tissues and Organs for Research Resources (HTORR) grant from the National Institutes of Health, which continues to support us today.


1988 - Human Biological Data Interchange

NDRI founder and president Lee Ducat launches the Human Biological Data Interchange (HBDI) with a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and begins to recruit “special case families” for research into the etiology and pathogenesis of diabetes and other diseases.

1995 - NDRI Corporate Partners Program

NDRI launches the Corporate Partners Program, which provides highly customized biospecimen procurement services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology partners.

1996 - First International Partnership

NDRI launches its first international corporate partnership with HAB Research Organization in Japan.

2004 - Cystic Fibrosis Funding

NDRI receives funding to support the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation’s effort to provide a reliable source of explanted CF lungs for research and drug development, ultimately leading to development of Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ FDA-approved Kalydeco®.

2005 - 25th Anniversary Celebration

NDRI marks its 25th anniversary with a celebration honoring Paul Lacy, MD, PhD, founding chairman of NDRI from Washington University.

2006 - National Rare Disease Partnership

NDRI launches the National Rare Disease Partnership, partnering with 25 voluntary health organizations to create donor and investigator registries to procure and provide biospecimens for research on rare diseases.

2007 - Pancreas Network Partnership

NDRI partners with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes to provide pancreas and related tissues from organ donors for research into the development of Type 1 Diabetes in an effort to prevent or cure the disease.

2008 - NIH Funding Supplement

NDRI receives a funding supplement to its Human Tissues and Organs for Research Resource Grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Rare Disease Research.

2010 - Genotype Research Pilot

NDRI receives funding to serve as the tissue procurement partner for the pilot National Institutes of Health Common Fund’s Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) Project.

2012 - Leinweber Named President & CEO

In September 2012, the NDRI Board of Directors appointed William (Bill) Leinweber as President and CEO. Leinweber is a recognized leader in advocacy for medical and health research and critical public health issues. Prior to joining NDRI, he held senior leadership positions with the American Heart Association, Research!America and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

2013 - ALS Collaborations

NDRI begins to collaborate with the Veterans Administration Biorepository Brain Bank and the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry/McKing Consulting Corporation to recover specimens from donors with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

2014 - TBI and Tumor Partnerships

NDRI partners with the Henry Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Science to provide biospecimens for research on traumatic brain injury in veterans and with the Children’s Tumor Foundation for post-mortem tissue recovery services from registered donors for research on neurofibromatosis.

2015 - “Donation to Discovery” Symposium

NDRI celebrates 35 years with a scientific symposium, “From Donation to Discovery: The Critical Role of Human Tissue in Research” and presents the inaugural D. Walter Cohen, DDS, Service to Science Award to Dr. Cohen, a chair emeritus of the NDRI Board of Directors.

2016 - CAP Accreditation

NDRI undergoes the College of American Pathologists’ Biorepository Accreditation process and receives a three-year accreditation — testament that we manage biospecimens to the highest scientific standards.

NDRI is a Not-For-Profit (501c3) Corporation.