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Research biorepositories

Research biorepositories are collections of biospecimens (samples of human biological material) linked to relevant personal and health information. These biospecimens are stored specifically for use in health and medical research and are utilised with the informed consent of the donor.

Information for our researchers

What is a research biorepository?

Several ethically approved research biorepositories are currently in operation on the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) campus.

A research biorepository may go under a differing title (eg a tissue bank, a biobank, a tumour bank or a human biological material collection), however their objective is the same.

Their objective is to provide a resource for researchers to use to advance understanding of human health and disease. Research biorepositories are important for:

  • understanding the risk factors that underlie complex diseases
  • translating biomedical research into real improvements in health care, especially through advances in pharmacogenomics and personalised medicine, to minimise adverse drug reactions and ultimately the development of more effective therapies and outcomes for patients with malignant disease.

Research Biorepository Governance Framework

Metro South Health has established a comprehensive Research Biorepository Governance Framework which contains a policy and procedures.

Our research biorepositories

Collection types currently held within Metro South Health include the following cancer types:

  • haematological malignancies (eg leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma)
  • head and neck
  • skin cancer and melanoma (phenotypically characterised equivocal melanocytic proliferations)
  • oesophageal, gastric and gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST)
  • melanoma and soft tissue
  • brain tumour
  • liver
  • kidney

Accessing material from a research biorepository

  • Researchers can contact the principal investigator or laboratory manager of the specific research biorepositories directly to discuss processes for accessing samples.
  • The research biorepository contact will describe the process to access materials in compliance in compliance with the Metro South Health Research Biorepository Governance Framework.
  • Please note, researchers are required to obtain institutional support and Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) ethical clearance for the research project prior to accessing samples.
  • If undertaking research in Metro South Health please review information regarding the ethical clearance and research governance authorisation of research.
Research biorepositoryLaboratory managerPrincipal Investigator
Cancer Collaborative Biobank (CCB) - Haematological Malignancies (eg Leukaemia and Lymphoma)Megan Ellis
Ph: 3176 5853

Paula Marlton
Ph: 3176 6577

Head and Neck CancersN/A

Ben Panizza
Ph: 3176 5266

Skin Cancer and Melanoma Research (Phenotypically Characterised Equivocal Melanocytic Proliferations)N/A

Peter Soyer
Ph: 3343 8017

Oesophageal, Gastric and Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST) Biomarkers Tissue/Blood Banking


Andrew Barbour
Ph: 3176 5621

Melanoma and Soft Tissue BiobankN/AAndrew Barbour
Ph: 3176 5621
Queensland Brain Tumour Bank


Sarah Olson
Ph: 3176 6949

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders BiobankN/A

Gerald Holtmann
Ph: 3176 7792

Kidney Cancer BiobankGlenda Gobe

Simon Wood
Ph: 3176 6946

Lymphoma Biomarkers ResearchN/A

Maher Gandhi
Ph: 3443 8026

Information for our community

Our opportunity

  • The establishment of the TRI on the PAH campus provides a unique opportunity for patients, participants, clinicians and researchers to work together to solve health challenges collaboratively and efficiently.
  • Integral to the field of translational research is the need for a sustainable supply of well-documented and high quality biospecimens.
  • Biospecimens are samples of human tissue such as blood, lymph node, bone marrow, tumour, saliva, buccal (cheek) cells, hair follicles etc.  
  • Biospecimens from disease specific cancer biobanks have been instrumental in facilitating large scale research projects which have led to new treatments and better outcomes for patients.
  • Biospecimens are collected at various time points throughout a patient’s treatment (i.e. pre-treatment/diagnosis, disease progression, relapse or remission) and stored in a storage facility called a research biorepository (also known as a biobank, tumour bank or tissue bank) for future use in medical research.  
  • Much like a money bank, researchers can make ‘withdrawals’ from a research biorepository to utilise in their ethically and scientifically approved and authorised research projects.

Importance of research biorepositories

  • The availability of successful biobanking services enables advancements in the understanding of disease biology through clinically-directed translational research.
  • Outcomes of research projects utilising high quality research biorepository biospecimens are often more predictive and give more opportunities for personalisation of medicine.
  • Additionally, the extensive network established by a research biorepository, comprising of government and public stakeholders, helps bring together scientists, clinicians, academic researchers, the pharmaceutical industry and patient advocacy research groups, resulting into a stronger collaborative milieu in the scientific community.
  • Research biorepositories give researchers access to data representing a large number of people.
  • Samples in research biorepositories and the data derived from those samples can often be used by multiple researchers for cross purpose research projects.
  • In addition to the storage of biospecimens for research purposes, biorepositories are also important for developing personalised medicine and/or precision medicine in the management of cancer patients.
  • Precision diagnosis and resultant personalised treatments are entirely dependent on access to high quality individual patient biospecimens and the efficient, effective, secure and risk minimised storage of these biospecimens underpins such success. 

Participation in a Metro South Health research biorepository

  • Patients who are interested in participating in a research biorepository are encouraged to discuss further with their treating medical practitioner.
Last updated 28 April 2021
Last reviewed 19 July 2022