AITHM James Cook University

What is a biobank?

A biobank is like a library, but instead of the shelves being filled with books, videos and other material they are filled with biospecimens (for example blood, saliva, plasma, purified DNA).  Another section of the library contains important information about those specimens and the person who donated them.  This information might include the age and gender of the person, their medical history and what environmental factors they have been exposed to.  Just as you can go to a library and find a particular type of book, maybe a thriller or sci-fi, researchers can go to a biobank and look up a particular kind of sample.  They may be after blood from males aged 40-60 who suffer from gout, or from women who have smoked for over 10 years. By studying human tissue, cells or fluids, scientists can learn about health, how diseases develop and why individuals respond to treatments differently. They can also test new drugs on tissues to see whether they are safe and whether they work before trying them in human volunteers. These studies may lead to the development of new medicines, diagnostic tests and other treatments.

What is the purpose of the AITHM Biobank?

The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM), based at James Cook University (JCU), is a multi-disciplinary health and tropical medicine research institute. AITHM’s research spans public health, biomolecular, clinical, translational, and health systems research and is strongly focused on the health issues of most importance to tropical Australia, delivering significant public health benefit locally, regionally and globally. The AITHM Biobank is an ongoing endeavour and will collect samples, health and sociodemographic information over many years to support the research goals of the institute.

 How can I be involved?

You can help the research being undertaken by AITHM scientists by participating in the AITHM Biobank. The AITHM Biobank collects samples and information from a large range of people. Some people may be involved in other AITHM research projects. Some are being asked because they have a particular disease that may be the focus of future AITHM research projects. Some people are being asked because they don’t have a particular disease, so their samples and information can be used as a ‘control’ and compared to samples and information from people with the disease. No matter which group you fall into, your participation is important and helps to provide valuable information. 

If you are interested in participating in the Biobank please follow this link to read the Participant Information sheet, which contains more details on the biobank and what participating in it will involve. (Link to PICF)

Who do I contact about the AITHM Biobank?

If you have any questions about the biobank please contact the AITHM Biobank Manager.  They can be contacted by emailing, or phone (07) 4781 5180.