Victorian Cancer Biobank

Biobank Brief

April 2012


Welcome to our first edition of Biobank Brief for 2012. It is my great pleasure to launch our new website and streamlined application forms which we are confident will simplify the application process for researchers. We welcome your feedback.

Importantly, as part of our ongoing collaboration with BioGrid Australia, researchers can apply through the Biobank for access clinical data associated with biospecimens that is in addition to our Minimum Data Set.  Completing Form D will be provide access to data held in databases at BioGrid Australia member institutions where donors have been treated.

Another exciting development at the Biobank is the opening of a new site at The Alfred, made possible by an additional grant from the Victorian Cancer Agency. Medical Scientist, Lisa McPhail commenced in January and has already begun supporting clinicians and patients involved in translational research projects at The Alfred.

2011 was a very productive year for the Biobank. We received a record 23 new research applications, and 32 projects were fully supplied and closed. A total of 5,001 biospecimens were distributed to researchers, bringing the total to 24,483 since 2007. 2012 is also looking busy with twelve new applications received in the first three months.

More information on our achievements is available in the 2011 Annual Report which can be downloaded from the website.

Dr Anne Thompson


With more and more users visiting our website, we felt it was time for a makeover. You'll find new streamlined application forms on the new look site - which not only looks better but is easier to navigate.

Importantly, the site will soon feature the Biospecimen Inventory Viewer, which will enable users to search our biospecimen database before submitting an application.

To find out more about the launch of the Viewer, and for all other updates, you can follow us on Twitter by clicking on the icon (at bottom right of homepage).


Pathologists play a key role in the timely provision of fresh tissue during collection and are essential to banking high quality biospecimens. In recognition of this service and the shortage of pathologists in Victoria, the Biobank supports pathology registrar positions at Consortium and some associate member sites. Since the traineeship scheme commenced in 2007, 25 training positions have been funded and 17 different Pathology Registrars have participated.

Each registrar undertakes a research project aimed at increasing their understanding of molecular pathology and its importance in cancer research, diagnosis and treatment. To date, research undertaken by five registrars has been published in peer reviewed journals; two registrars have been particularly successful with more than ten publications over the last four years and several registrars have received grants and awards.

The program has been embraced by both the pathologists and the registrars. It has underpinned the in-kind support we receive from pathology laboratories, which ensures that quality specimens are banked and available for collaborative cancer research undertaken locally, nationally and internationally.



A Biobanking Forum was at The Alfred held in October in anticipation of the new site, which opened in early January. Approximately 20 clinicians attended a presentation by Dr Anne Thompson and discussion indicated a high level of support and enthusiasm for the new site. Clinical staff and Alfred surgeons are collaborating with researchers and Biobank staff to support the collection of melanoma and thyroid specimens for translational research.

Former Cabrini Health Tissue Bank Coordinator, Lisa McPhail has been appointed as Tissue Bank Manager for the site, and will work closely with Anatomical Pathology Senior Scientist, Manager Mark Donovan.

An official launch of The Alfred Tissue Bank is scheduled for later in the year.  


The 2011 Annual Australasian Biospecimens Network Annual Meeting was held at the Perth Convention Centre in November. The Biobank was well-represented with 13 staff members in attendance, presenting at total of six posters on the following subjects:

  • Dynamic risk management in a multi-site tissue bank - Paul Pinto Correia, Anne Thompson
  • Ethically approved research: standards and compliance - Daniela Surace, Joanne Edgar and Anne Thompson
  • Aperio as a tool in biobanking – Shannon Marantelli, Matthew Chapman, Sanja El-Najjar, Kathryn Goss, Helen Manos, Jeffrey Nolan, Karen Velasco and Prof. Geoff Lindeman
  • Minimum Data Set: a data quality tool in the biobank environment – Charlotte Crill, Anne Thompson, Joanne Edgar, Paul Pinto Correia, Yassar Hameed and Daniela Surace
  • From Capture To Dispatch: The Journey of Biospecimen Related Data – Yassar Hameed and Anne Thompson
  • Applying Informed Consent to Biobanking - Lisa McPhail and Justine Olsen

In addition there were two oral presentations: John Ciciulla on the Pathology Registrar Program, and Dr Anne Thompson gave a presentation titled Biomarker Pilot Project: clinical analysis of biospecimens for quality and uniformity.       



Southern Health Tissue Bank Manager, Zdenka Prodanovic was a recent guest on RRR Radio's Sunday science show, Einstein A Go-Go, as part of Pathology Week.

Pathology Week (5-9 March 2012) is an annual event which aims to highlight the roles that medical scientists play in the delivery of pathology services.

You can download the podcast here: