Australian Breast Cancer Tissue Bank

The Australian Breast Cancer Tissue Bank (ABCTB) is an open access, not for profit biobank established in 2005.

It holds a large collection of tissue samples and associated data that are accessible to researchers worldwide to support their research into breast cancer.

The ABCTB holds samples of cancerous and normal breast tissue and blood collected during routine pathology from women with breast cancer. The bank also contains some information about the health and breast cancer treatment of donors. More than 10,000 samples have so far been provided to researchers internationally, resulting in numerous publications and clinical advances that have improved outcomes for women with breast cancer.

Accessing samples and information

Researchers can apply to access the samples and information in the bank for breast cancer research projects investigating various aspects of the cancer including its causes, development or progression, diagnosis and treatment. The ABCTB considers the scientific merit and ethics of research projects before it provides access to samples and data. Where access is provided, the identities of the patient donors are not disclosed.

The ABCTB’s central management is located at the Westmead Institute. Collection centres and affiliate sites are distributed across Australia.

More details can be found on the ABCTB website

Core group


Tissue Bank Manager

  • Jane Carpenter

Tissue Bank Scientist

  • Li Ma

Data Officer

  • Heather Woodward

Senior Scientist

  • Mythily Mariasegaram

Tissue Bank Officer

  • Judith Heads

Data Managers

  • Adam Robinson
  • Usman Jawaid

Collection centres

Tissue Bank Manager, Brisbane

  • Kaltin Ferguson

Tissue Bank Officer, Hunter

  • Carmel Chapman

Breast Tissue Bank Coordinator, ACT

  • Elaine Bean

Breast Tissue Bank Coordinator, Northern Sydney Collection Centre

  • Kathleen Phillips 


ABCTB governance is via operational, executive and management groups and independent oversight is provided by an external Advisory Panel. Click here for further details.


Click here for details of research projects that have used ABCTB samples.

ABCTB participates in activities undertaken by the Biobanking Stakeholder Network (BSN), which was established by the Cancer Institute NSW.

ABCTB has assisted other biobanks to establish infrastructure resources such as databases.


The ABCTB is funded by the following bodies:

  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
  • National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF)
  • Cancer Institute NSW

We would also like to acknowledge the members of our access committee, management committee and independent advisory panel, whose membership includes biobanking experts, bioethicists, researchers, clinicians and consumers.

The recruitment of donors and the collection of samples and clinical data would not be possible without the voluntary help of many individuals and groups, for whose help we are very grateful. This includes hospital staff who recruit donors to the biobank; as well as operating theatres and pathology labs (both public and private) who collect samples on our behalf.

We also thank consumer groups, ethics committees, medical secretaries, hospital IT departments, scientists and researchers country wide for their contributions. Most importantly we would like to thank the donors and their families.

Gynaecological Oncology Biobank at Westmead

The Gynaecological Oncology Biobank at Westmead (GynBiobank) began in the 1980s and provides services for the procurement, storage and distribution of biospecimens for research.

Tumour, normal tissue and blood are collected from consented patients undergoing surgery where cancer is a possible or confirmed diagnosis. It is a foundational initiative, which aims to:

  • facilitate research into the molecular and cellular biology of gynaecological cancer
  • enhance the discovery and validation of new therapeutic targets and biomarkers
  • facilitate the rapid translation of research results into clinical practice, and
  • assist in biospecimen collection for clinical trials.


Current GynBiobank activities and services include collecting and banking freshly-frozen tissue specimens from surgical material which is excess to diagnostic requirements, processing and banking blood components, maintaining a tissue database with links to clinicopathological data, performing histological staining and pathological review, and coordinating patient consent and assuring regulatory compliance.

The GynBiobank collects samples which include formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue, fresh frozen tissue and blood products.

Our Organisation

The use of human tissues for research purposes is tightly regulated by both national and local policies and procedures to which the GynBiobank strictly adheres. Our samples are collected and stored with informed patient consent and with the approval of the Sydney West Area Health Service Human Research Ethics Committee.

The GynBiobank is a member bank of the Australasian Biospecimen Network (ABN), an organisation whose members work together to promote transfer of knowledge between banks, facilitate the collection of biospecimens for research and facilitate access to biospecimens by researchers. 

The Biobank is overseen by the Gynaecological Oncology Biobank at Westmead Committee whose combined experience and knowledge shapes policy, evaluates access applications and prioritises and ensures equitable usage of the  Gynaecological Oncology Biobank at Westmead resource. Professor Anna deFazio who is part of the ABN: Oncology executive lends her expertise to ensure efficiency, standardisation, accountability and timely completion of research.

Catherine Kennedy is the GynBiobank Manager and is responsible for ensuring that all activities surrounding the procurement, storage, processing and issuing of biosamples are performed in strict accordance to the highest regulatory standards through standard operating procedures. She is also responsible for processing requests for biosamples, maintaining the GynBiobank database and enhancing the profile of the Biobank.

Information for Researchers

Quality Control

All biosamples undergo routine and stringent quality control checks before being issued. Frozen and formalin fixed paraffin embedded material have tumour or normal epithelium content verified and recorded by a pathologist based on H&E stained slides. Both the slide and tissue report are available for review.

RNA quality is routinely assessed by determining the RNA Integrity Number (RIN)  using the Agilent Bioanalyser. DNA quantitation is performed using the Qubit Fluorometer.

Participant Data

Samples supplied to the researcher are coded to ensure participant confidentiality and the researcher can request clinical information, which includes age at diagnosis, histological stage, type and grade of tumour as well as clinical follow up and outcome data.

Application for Biospecimens

Application for accessing the Biobank resource can be made by completing an application form. The costs associated with supplying samples and data are set out in the cost recovery policy. Researchers are encouraged to contact the bank to discuss their specific requirements.

On receipt of the application it is reviewed for scientific rigor and compliance by the GynBiobank Access Committee.

The GynBiobank will endeavour to make biosamples available to researchers provided that:

  • the stated research objectives have been peer-reviewedand are scientifically sound
  • the specific research plans are approved by an appropriate Research Ethics Committee
  • the proposed research is covered by the scope of the pateint consent covering the uses of biospecimens
  • the research is sufficiently funded and otherwise resourced
  • the necessary biospecimens can be sourced and supplied
  • the researcher's organisation enters into a contract (Material Transfer Agreement) that governs the transfer and use of biosamples supplied
  • the specific project is deemed to be of high priority in situations where there is competition for access to limited resources.

The access policy can be downloaded here.


The following publications have arisen from samples and/or data supplied by the GynBiobank at Westmead.

Contact Us

Further information regarding the Gynaecological Oncology Biobank at Westmead may be obtained by contacting:

Catherine Kennedy
Gynaecological Oncology Biobank at Westmead Manager
Room 2192
Dept Gynaecological Oncology, CCR, WMI and University of Sydney
Westmead Hospital
Hawkesbury Road
Westmead NSW 2145
Tel +61 2 9845 7306

The Westmead Medical Mycology Culture Collection

The Westmead Medical Mycology Culture Collection aims to preserve Australian human and animal pathogenic fungal biodiversity and to provide reference and clinical strains for the mycology community.

The collection was originally established under the curation of Prof. Wieland Meyer at the Molecular Mycology Research Laboratory, in the Centre for Infectious Disease and Microbiology at the Sydney Medical School, Westmead Hospital. It now resides in the Westmead Institute for Medical Research.

Since its inception 20 years ago, 10,073 strains have been deposited, representing 437 species. The strains are identified phenotypically, biochemically and molecularly and are stored either freeze-dried in glycerol at -80°C or as living culture at 14°C.

The majority of the stored strains are the result of specific clinical, molecular epidemiological and basic science projects. The pathogenic yeasts Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii account for 54 per cent of the specimens deposited.

To further characterise the maintained strains, specific MultiLocus Sequence Typing schemes have been developed for C. neoformans, C. gattii, Scedosporium apiospermum, S. aurantiacum, S. boydii and Pneumocystis jirovecii, which are publically accessible at

The collection also formed the basis for the development of the quality controlled ISHAM-ITS sequence database for human and animal pathogenic fungi accessible at 

Contact: Prof. Wieland Meyer