South Australian Cancer Research Biobank (SACRB)

A Biobank is a collection of human biological materials linked to relevant personal and health information and held specifically for use in health and medical research.

The South Australian Cancer Research Biobank (SACRB) is the largest haematological disease biobank in Australia in terms of the total number of patients, specimens and individual diseases collected.

SACRB was started in 1986 in the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) department of Haematology. Since then SACRB has collected samples from over 5000 patients and currently enrols around 400 new patient donors annually with a wide range of blood disorders.

Samples are ideally collected from the time of diagnosis and throughout the patient journey. These valuable samples enable local researchers to contribute to important Australian and international research enabling improved understanding of the detection, prevention, treatment and cure of complex diseases. Every year around 1500 individual specimens are released for these research projects.

SACRB is supported by the Health Services Charitable Gifts Board (HSCGB), the RAH, SA Pathology, the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

Information for researchers and clinicians

The South Australian Cancer Research Biobank, (SACRB) is a physical repository for biospecimens and clinical data collected from patients attending South Australian hospitals for a number of haematological and oncological disorders. The repository includes existing and prospectively collected biospecimens and data. The key goal of the SACRB is to provide infrastructure for the support of cancer research in South Australia to enhance scientific knowledge and improve patient treatment outcomes.

The SACRB has dedicated staff for specimen processing, storage and release, data management, and quality assurance under the supervision of a scientific manager.

SACRB’s Biospecimen access policy and procedure focuses on the timely release of biospecimens for ethically approved projects using a 2-step process.

Up to 3 year project approval is sought by an Applicant (generally a SACRB clinical collector). The project application details co-investigators who may be South Australian, Australian or internationally-based, including whether each investigator has current SA Health/ SA Pathology approval for Access to Patient Information, and study approvals from Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) of all investigator host institutions. Following project approval via the SACRB Access Committee, the applicant and named co-investigators may then request biospecimen/ data release via a Biospecimen request form. Biospecimen and data release must be approved by the SACRB Director.

The median age of patients with specimens stored by the SACRB is reasonably close to the state population median age highlighting the relevance of the collection to the general population. The biobank's holding is particularly valuable for research because, firstly, the biospecimens are annotated with clinical information; secondly, it reflects the full age and disease spectrum and includes patients who did not receive treatment highlighting the relevance of the collection to the general population; lastly it includes biospecimens at the time of diagnosis, remission and relapse so that it allows studies into causations and treatment effects.​ The clinically annotated SACRB collection has facilitated researchers’ participation in major international studies and has provided an up-to-date and regulation-compliant ethical platform for a number of smaller collections.

Its Executive Committee includes representatives from all clinical and laboratory haematological cancer research groups in South Australia, and provides a highly valuable meeting place for researchers working on different campuses across Adelaide.


For more information, contact:

SACRB Scientific manager: Kate Harrison
Telephone: (08) 8128 4164