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.
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
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.
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.
Further information regarding the Gynaecological Oncology Biobank at Westmead may be obtained by contacting:
Gynaecological Oncology Biobank at Westmead Manager
Dept Gynaecological Oncology, CCR, WMI and University of Sydney
Westmead NSW 2145
Tel +61 2 9845 7306