Big move for BCBA member biobank will enhance child brain tumour research


What has been the process of moving the biobank?

Moving the Biobank was a major task for the team.  The Telethon Kids Institute purchased several new ultra-low temperature (-80 ºC) freezers for use at the new site, so the first challenge was to move all the Biobank samples from the old freezer (called “Duey”) into the Brain Tumour Research Team’s new freezer (named “Duey Bioline” or “Duey B” for short). This also involved the complete migration of the digital inventory so that all the sample information matched the new physical locations of each sample inside the new freezer. Then, Duey B, along with numerous other institute -80 ºC freezers, had to be physically transported 5km across town in large specialist trucks equipped with generators (and removalist staff trained to shift freezers and biological samples) to ensure they maintained their temperature and avoided any thawing of the precious Biobank samples. Being a busy children’s hospital the loading dock at the delivery site was in heavy demand, so offloading Duey B at the new site required lots of co-ordination and co-operation with a range of hospital personnel. The great news is that Duey B was settled in to his new home without a hitch.

What was the biggest challenge of the move? 

There were a wide range of challenges to face. A major one was planning the packing up of the laboratory in time for the move but also limiting the downtime of the research experiments, at the same time ensuring there was sufficient time set aside to pack up the Brain Tumour Research laboratory’s accumulated goods from more than 18 years of continuous operation. This was particularly challenging for experiments such as the in vitro cell line culturing and also for the in vivo animal-model work.  At the same time the research team had to be mindful of the logistics of moving an entire research Institute, including the decommissioning of the Animal Bioresource Facility.

What are the benefits of a physical integration with a hospital?

The Brain Tumour Research Team is particularly excited about the co-location of the Institute and the new Perth Children’s Hospital. When consenting parents agree to donate their child’s brain tumour tissue for research purposes, attending the surgery in person to collect the tumour tissue will require less travel and forward planning. There will also be many more opportunities to interact with the clinicians on site (both formally and spontaneously). Having more clinicians attending the Institute seminars (and vice versa) will almost certainly enhance the networking opportunities for all.  Being co-located with the hospital will also serve as a constant reminder to the team of the reason they do this important research, as they witness parents and families attending the hospital
What are the team enjoying most about their new home? 

The BTRP team is really enjoying a whole range of things about the new home – the beautiful amenities, the vibrancy of working in the large open-plan laboratories, the state-of-the-art technology, and the new airy and open office area, all of which has organically increased the interaction with the other laboratory teams working at the Telethon Kids Institute.  They’re also enjoying being located within the bigger Queen Elizabeth II medical precinct, due to the increased opportunities for interaction with researchers from several other medical research institutes (including the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University of Western Australia).  Being on site makes it much easier to attend seminar series run by other institutes without having to travel there by car. And rekindling old friendships and work-relationships at the myriad of coffee shops and cafes located on site and nearby Hampden Rd, too!
What exciting projects do you have planned?  

The Brain Tumour Research Program has many exciting projects on the go at the moment including:

  • Generation of novel patient-derived xenograft models of childhood and adult brain cancers
  • Replicating clinical radiation therapy protocols in preclinical brain tumour models, such as multifractionated craniospinal irradiation
  • Translating promising therapeutic regimens from our preclinical systems into new early phase clinical trials for children with medulloblastoma.