Victorian Cancer Biobank

How to Apply and Conditions of Use

  1. How To Apply
    1. The Victorian Cancer Biobank (VCB) is funded by the Victorian Government and through the in-kinds support of our participating institutions. The VCB is an open-access platform available to all researchers who have Human Research Ethics Committee (or equivalent) approval for their study.
    2. Before applying researchers are encouraged to check with the VCB Applications Manager for the availability of data and biospecimens:
    3. If you are applying for National or International grants, the VCB Applications Manager can prepare a pre-quote that can be used to factor in the costs of obtaining biospecimens.
    4. Application Forms A and B can be returned to:
    5. In the event the VCB cannot completely satisfy a request due to the number of materials being requested, the rarity of some samples and/or because of competing demands, the VCB would like to share your application with other Tissue Banks in order to complete your request; however this will be done only with your permission.
  2. Acknowledgement and Reporting Policy
    1. The VCB requires that a list of abstracts, publications and presentations resulting from materials and/or data supplied by the VCB be provided on an annual basis.
    2. Any publication or presentation resulting from research performed on materials or services obtained from the VCB is required to acknowledge the VCB by using the following statement:
      “Biospecimens and data used in this research were obtained from the Victorian Cancer Biobank, Victoria Australia with appropriate ethics approval. The Victorian Cancer Biobank is supported by the Victorian Government”
  3. Application Process
    1. The VCB Manager in consultation with the Access Committee reviews applications for biospecimens and/or services to:
    2. Match the capabilities of the VCB in terms of feasibility, prioritisation and/or the quantities of tissue being requested.
    3. Evidence that the project has undergone a scientific or peer-review process and has been approved by a registered NHMRC (or equivalent) Human Research Ethics Committee. (HREC)
    4. Approve or reject applications based on the above considerations.
    5. Resolves issues of competing demands.
    6. Upon approval, you will be asked to complete a Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA) or Service Agreement (SA). Note: The provision of biospecimens or services cannot commence until the fully executed MTA or SA has been returned.
    7. MTAs or SAs that have not been returned within 90 days will not be followed up i.e., no further action will be taken by the VCB to determine the status of the application.
    8. Applicants who have not returned the MTA’s or SA within 90 days may be asked to re-apply and be subject to another application processing fee.
    9. Amendments to original projects may be made by submitting an Application Amendment Form C. Amendments can only be accepted if they fall within the scope of your HREC approved application.
  4. Charges
    1. The Victorian Cancer Biobank is a not-for-profit consortium. The collection of fees is to offset the substantial costs of collecting, processing, storing and annotating biospecimens.
    2. Cost recovery rates were reviewed and benchmarked against local and international biobanks, such as the NUHS Tissue Biorespository and were based on principles in the NCI Best Practice for Biospecimen Resources.
    3. Cost recovery rates and fees for services are reviewed annually and may change without notice. The VCB’s Cost Recovery Fee Schedule is available on the website
    4. Please contact the Applications Manager for current fees and charges.
  5. Ethics Approval
    1. The principal investigator must have obtained approval from a registered NHMRC (or equivalent) Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) before materials/ data may be released.
    2. Projects exempt from review will be considered. Please provide an ethics committee (or equivalent) letter of exemption with your application.
    3. Projects involving genetic testing / profiling or analysis will only be accepted with full HREC approval (i.e. non expedited review).
  6. Research Participants
    1. The focus of the VCB is to collect tissue and blood samples from patients prior to surgery or cytotoxic treatment.
    2. Patients who are post-treatment may also be recruited on a project specific basis.
    3. Cancer patients and healthy donors are recruited for research on VCB Consent Forms standardised across all participating collection sites.
    4. Participants may also be recruited for research using your Project Specific Consent Form.
  7. General Data Bank
    1. The VCB’s Data Bank maintains data handling procedures to maximize data integrity and quality for general and project specific data capture.
    2. Data provided by VCB are de-identified (coded) prior to release for use in research.
    3. The VCB maintains the re-identifying link between participants and their data.
    4. The VCB minimum data set can be found on the website
    5. Value added data in addition to the minimum data set can be requested at the time of the application (refer to Item 8).
    6. At the time of consent, participants routinely consent to:
    7. Allow VCB staff access to their medical records or their clinician’s databases.
    8. Allow researchers to access identified information (with participant and ethics approval).
    9. Allow VCB to distribute ethically approved project specific questionnaire on a behalf of researchers.
  8. Value Added Clinical, Pathological and Epidemiological Data 
    1. Each sample that is collected from patients is annotated relative to the sample collection date, including (Note: not all data elements are available for all cases):
    2. Diagnosis status (primary, new primary, benign, recurrent), sample treatment status (pre-surgical, post-adjuvant therapy, etc.), cancer history and personal history detail.
    3. Death data obtained from the Victorian Cancer Registry.
    4. Upon special request VCB can also capture or link to extended clinical follow-up data, co morbidities, treatment history and medications at the time of sample collection.
  9. Biospecimens
    1. All biospecimens are de-identified (coded) prior to release for use in research. The VCB maintains the re-identifying link between participants and their samples.
    2. The tumour content of all fixed and frozen tissue samples are assessed by pathology verification (H&E) of the associated fixed or OCT embedded tissue fragment. While it is the intention of the VCB to only supply samples with 50% or more tumour, the tumour content may vary in up to 10% of samples.
    3. Every participant is asked to donate 30-50 mL of blood. Additional tubes of blood can be obtained for specific protocols.
    4. Blood samples are collected as closely as possible to the time of surgery.
    5. Follow-up bloods are collected based on the project specific time points.
    6. DNA or RNA can be extracted from tissue or blood.
    7. Normal control tissue. Surgical patients with benign conditions or who are having cosmetic or prophylactic procedures are asked to donate blood and tissue.
    8. Healthy donors, such as family members and friends accompanying patients, as well as visitors to our host institutions may be asked to donate blood samples as controls.
    9. Fresh tissue. Access to fresh tissue samples is more restrictive than requests for Formalin-Fixed Paraffin Embedded (FFPE) samples because they cannot be recalled for diagnostic assessment if the main specimen submitted to Pathology is judged insufficient. Therefore please note the following:
    10. While some participants may give pre-operative verbal consent to enable the collection of fresh tissue, a signed, post-operative consent must be obtained by Biobank staff within 90 days of a procedure. If the post-operative consent cannot be obtained, cell lines and xenografts etc., constructed from the harvested fresh tissue MUST be destroyed and no information retained.
    11. Fresh tissue collections incur a special pathology tissue cut-up fee. The pathologist will try and select appropriate tissue based on the investigators specification. However, without microscopic review the pathologist cannot guarantee that all areas of interest will be present in the fresh tissue. While the VCB will not charge for the fresh tissue fragment, the researcher will be charged the pathology tissue cut-up fee. Please contact the Applications Manager for more information.
  10. Condition of Use 
    1. Biospecimens and data supplied by the Victorian Cancer Biobank may be used only for the scientific/medical purposes as stated in the Victorian Cancer Biobank Material Transfer Agreement.
    2. Researchers must not attempt to identify any VCB donor unless they have specific ethics approval to access identified information and the participant has consented to be identified.
  11. Disclaimers
    1. Biospecimens for the VCB are selected with great care by pathologists; however, the VCB, its sponsors and contributors accept no responsibility for the inadvertent provision of incorrect materials or data.
    2. The VCB does not knowingly collect or distribute infectious material, e.g. HIV, TB, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. Screening for these infectious agents is not routinely performed, therefore all biospecimens should be treated as bio-hazardous material. If, in the event infectious material is detected applicants need to be aware that full cooperation from the donor may not occur. The VCB and its host institution will endeavour to obtained relevant clinical data within the ethical boundaries but the onus is on the applicant to pursue donor infectious disease testing, including consenting the donor.
    3. The applicant assumes all risk and responsibility for the handling, storage and use of samples provided by the VCB and for informing and training all personnel in the dangers, hazards and procedures for the safe handling of human biospecimens.
  12. Payment
    1. Payment for VCB Biospecimens and/or Services is due 30 days from the end of month.
    2. Payments not received within 60 days may result in the temporary suspension of service until payment is received.