Making the case for Centralised Biobanking in WA

Careful management of bio-specimens for current and future research is fundamental for high quality and reproducible research. There’s a need in WA to establish a harmonised sample collection, storage, curation and management system which will allow ethically acceptable standardisation across cohorts and registries. This will assist with avoiding duplication of effort and investment.


With Medical Research Future Funds (MRFF), WAHTN commissioned a scoping project in 2018 to develop recommendations for national guidelines and piloting infrastructure for a scalable, shared, and standardised data repository of clinical and research genomics resource facility in WA. The project, overseen by Dr Aron Chakera, has the potential to be scaled to national activity and has produced an international scan of Biobank resources, facility ethics and economics across Australia, the UK and Japan. To inform the Report a questionnaire was sent out to a number of WA stakeholders to gather information and feedback on the establishment of a centralised biobank in WA. With follow up interviews, the project team were able to clarify and understand the data and specimen banking requirements across different studies and Biobanks in WA.


A stakeholder engagement workshop was held in October 2018 with the aim of developing working groups to further advance the discussion points around:

  • Governance
  • Ethics
  • Quality Assurance
  • Data Management
  • Infrastructure
  • Funding

The minutes and slides presented at the workshop are available online.


What are the next steps? In order to further develop a plan for a centralised Biobank in WA, interested parties have been invited to join one of the six working groups listed above. Each working groups task is to address the issues and define actions which need to occur to create the Biobank hub in the context of each specific group. The Chair for each working group is responsible for compiling key messages and summarise recommendations, tasks, and actions as discrete projects (small / medium / large, short term / mid term / long term etc) Summary outcomes with clear recommendations from each group have been called for during January 2019. An update will be posted when available.


For further information please contact Jennie Hui and Aron Chakera


Trialling of a Biobanking Informatics Platform for WA

In parallel to the project above, WAHTN has contributed funds towards the costs of a Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) initiated project which will purchase OpenSpecimen and configure it within TKI servers for supporting complex Biobanking operations. WAHTN funding will contribute to the training of IT and Biobanking personnel in the configuration and use of the platform. OpenSpecimen will be used initially to support the Joondalup Heath Campus based ORIGINS Biobank. ORIGINS will contribute additional funding associated with migrating their data onto the platform.


The long term goal will be to use OpenSpecimen to support other research Biobanks across the local Perth Children’s Hospital campus. Including Child and Adolescent Health Services, Telethon Kids Institute, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and the QEII Medical Centre.


For further information please contact Paul Watt and David Martino