The statewide biobanking framework

NSW Health Pathology is working with key stakeholders to develop the first statewide biobanking framework in NSW to ensure NSW has a world-class, sustainable approach to managing human biobanks and the specimens they house.  It also aims to help improve integration between research, diagnostics and clinical care. The benefits include:

  • A standardised consent process to streamline the collection of samples while ensuring we respect the rights of patients
  • A set of standards for endorsed biobanking facilities and a communication system between research and diagnostic services
  • Potential for links to administrative data sets via the Centre for Health Record Linkage (CHeReL)
  • Development of an online search platform to identify the availability of specimens and data across NSW
  • A feasibility pilot for specimens and data links to NSW Health Pathology activities

Key Projects Underway

Increasing the quality and standardisation of specimens collected

NSW Health Pathology has developed a Statewide Biobank Certification Program. This is based on a highly recognised program developed by the Office of Biobank Education and Research (OBER) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver and the Canadian Tissue Repository Network (CTRNet).

Our certification and education program:

  • Provides biobanks and pathology laboratories with education and best practice guidance to improve the quality of biobanking in NSW
  • Contains Australian-specific content regarding legislation, regulations and guidelines applicable to health and medical research
  • More than 30 biobanks across NSW have already signed up to be involved in the program
  • Is a voluntary certification scheme aimed at improving quality. 

To become certified or learn more visit the NSW Health Pathology Biobank Certification Program website or email NSWPATH-Biobanking@health.nsw.gov.au 

Streamlining collection processes and refining laboratory workflows

Most of the tissue donated to biobanks comes through pathology laboratories, so it makes sense for us to lead the framework.  An experienced American consultancy reviewed biobanking workflows in several of our laboratories and medical research facilities. We're currently implementing their  recommendations in two NSW Health Pathology pilot sites.  A key goal is to ensure that biobanking doesn’t compromise the diagnostic process.  However, if we are in the driver’s seat, we can do that.  For more information contact Kathleen Phillips, Biobank Quality and Research Engagement Manager p. 02 49204145. 

Developing a specimen locator

NSW Health Pathology is developing a specimen locator that aims to support biobanks whose collections are available to external researchers (i.e. open access) so these can be listed on a single, searchable web portal. 

This will increase awareness of and access to collections across the NSW biobanking community and means researchers can more easily locate and access specimens to support key research projects.

Specifications for the system are being developed and NSW Health Pathology is aiming to have a prototype to test with a small number of biobanks in late 2017. 

For more information contact Jane Carpenter, Project Manager Biobanking Services p. 02 49204138.  

Maintaining public trust in the biobanking processes

The Ministry of Health is working on a common consent process for patients who wish to donate their tissues for biobanking.  A draft framework that outlines requirements for consent when collecting human tissue for biobanking has been drafted. Feedback is being gathered from biobanks, researchers, clinicians, ethicists and other stakeholders prior to its finalisation.

In addition, a guideline and standard material transfer agreements (MTAs) to support the correct process for the transfer of human bio-specimens between hospitals, biobanks and researchers has been developed by NSW Health Pathology with input from the Ministry of Health legal advisors and other key stakeholders. 

Visit here for more information about consent

For more information contact Jane Carpenter, Project Manager Biobanking Services 

p. 02 49204138