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St Vincent’s Institute launches ‘Living Biobank’

Posted: 13th April 2017

St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research (SVI) has launched a ‘Living Biobank’, to support our research into diseases that affect Australians, including diabetes and cancer.

Medical researchers often require human biological samples to help progress their work. High quality samples can be difficult to access, because of the need for live cells or specialised storage.

SVI’s recently established Living Biobank, and the HMSTrust Biobank, which was launched in 2015, provide an alternative to monetary donations for those who want to support medical research in a way that gives them meaning, and can potentially lead to the prevention, treatment or cure of a disease that has impacted a friend or family member.

As part of the Program, we collect samples from people with and without chronic diseases. Samples collected for the Living Biobank may be used immediately for research projects, or ‘banked’ and kept for longer-term storage in the HMSTrust Biobank. Donors can choose to be involved in one or both of these biobanks.

The samples in a biobank allow researchers to compare results from people with a particular disease, to people who don’t suffer from that disease. It is important for scientists to use human blood and tissue to study diseases, so that they can develop more effective treatments and cures. Most commonly blood samples are collected, but biobanks may store other body fluids or tissues.

“Supporting our biobanks is a very personal way of giving hope to others who may get these diseases, or be at risk of getting these diseases. And quite frankly, without access to these samples, much of our promising research wouldn’t progress,” says Professor Tom Kay, Director of SVI.

Frequently asked questions

How does the Biobank Program work?

Almost anyone can support the Biobank. However, some people, such as pregnant women, may not be able to contribute.

To get involved, you must set up an appointment and sign a consent form to say that you are happy for your blood samples to be used for research.

Then we will take 2-3 tablespoons of blood from the vein in your arm and get some basic medical information from you, such as medications or natural therapies you take and any medical conditions you have. This information ensures your samples are included in appropriate studies.

What happens after I have given my sample?

Your sample and the information you provide will be securely stored in the Biobank facility. Only the Biobank staff have access to this information and will know your identity. To protect your privacy, your sample, and any details of your medical history such as diagnosis, are only identifiable by a code. Your personal information, such as your name, date of birth and contact details, will not be given to anyone else without your permission.

How do I volunteer or find out more information?

If you would like to donate a sample or receive more information you can:

  • Contact the Biobank Coordinator

Phone: (03) 9231 2480

Email: biobank@svi.edu.au

The SVI Biobank Program is a partnership between SVI, including the National Serology Laboratory, and St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne.

For more information please see: Human T cell