Digitally created image of a double helix

Genetic Repositories Australia (GRA)


Mission Statement
“By the end of 2010, GRA will be pre-eminent as the major Australian genetic materials repository and the preferred supplier of DNA and cell lines derived from comprehensively phenotyped diseased and normal subjects”.

In 2007, GRA officially opened for general use to provide researchers with a central facility for the processing, long-term secure storage and distribution of human genetic samples (DNA & Cell lines) for both academic and commercial users. Services include the production and provision of immortalised lymphoblast cell lines and DNA samples. No equivalent facility exists in Australia to provide these services yet they form an essential part of all genetic and epidemiological studies that aim to deliver new knowledge and improved health care outcomes.

Aims and Objectives
The GRA facility will fill an essential ‘missing link’ in the translation of population and pedigree based studies into genetic and genomic investigations. GRA will stimulate and facilitate world-class collaborative health and medical research in Australia and internationally through the production and provision of genetic resources along with relevant clinical or epidemiological information. GRA will provide a key resource for studies that are emerging from the biotechnology revolution, including the growing fields of pharmacogenomics and personalised medicine. The Repositories will grow to be an integral part of research in molecular and clinical genetics at both diagnostic and therapeutic levels.
Nature and Scope of Activities
GRA provides researchers with a central facility for the processing, long-term secure storage and distribution of human genetic samples (DNA & Cell lines). This includes the production and provision of immortalised lymphoblast cell lines and DNA samples. Samples can be shipped to the facility from the point of collection, whether at the investigator’s site or remote from it. DNA and immortalised cell lines will be generated by GRA and either stored for distribution to qualified investigators or, in the case of fee-for-service work, be delivered to the investigator. GRA will provide primary secure storage for this material. The Repositories provide a source of clinically validated but de-identified patient material, with complete phenotypic descriptors of disease and family or cohort structure that will permit genetic analyses for disease gene identification. In addition, GRA provides a facility, for researchers who are not themselves able to pursue DNA based research, to deposit materials for collaborative research.

Facility Staff
GRA is under the direction of the Facility Manager, Steve Turner. The GRA facility has 1 full-time Research Assistant, 3 full-time Technical Assistants and 1 casual Technical Assistant.

Genetic Repositories Australia, NHMRC Enabling Grant – Special Facilities, Grant ID 401184, 2006-2010. The Chief Investigators on the NHMRC Enabling Grant are Prof Peter Schofield (Neuroscience Research Australia & University of New South Wales), Assoc Prof Juleen Cavanaugh (Australian National University, Medical School, Canberra Hospital), Dr Susan Forrest (Australian Genome Research Facility) and Prof John Hopper (Centre for Genetic Epidemiology, University of Melbourne).

Publications arising from access to GRA Services and/or Material (DNA and/or cell lines) are to be forwarded to the GRA Facility Manager. A list of publications arising from GRA supported projects is provided below:

Haobo Zhang, Julian N Trollor, Wei Wen, Wanlin Zhu, John D Crawford, Nicole A Kochan, Melissa J Slavin, Henry Brodaty, Simone Reppermund, Kristan Kang, Karen A Mather, Perminder S Sachdev (2010). Grey matter atrophy of basal forebrain and hippocampus on mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry jnnp.2010.217133

Sachdev PS, Brodaty H, Reppermund S, Kochan NA, Trollor JN, Draper B, Slavin MJ, Crawford J, Kang K, Broe GA, Mather KA, Lux O; the Memory and Ageing Study Team (2010). The Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (MAS): methodology and baseline medical and neuropsychiatric characteristics of an elderly epidemiological non-demented cohort of Australians aged 70-90 years. International Psychogeriatrics 2010 Jul 19:1-17.

Sachdev PS, Lammel A, Trollor JN, Lee T, Wright MJ, Ames D, Wen W, Martin NG, Brodaty H, Schofield PR; OATS research team (2009). A comprehensive neuropsychiatric study of elderly twins: the Older Australian Twins Study. Twin Research and Human Genetics 2009 Dec 12(6):573-82.

Two recent reviews recognising the value of lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) and DNA Biobanks as an important resource for genetic and functional research and specifically which highlight GRA and its services are listed below:

Sie L, Loong S and Tan EK (2009). Utility of lymphoblastoid cell lines Journal of Neuroscience Research 2009 Jul 87(9):1953-9.

Sivakumeran, T.A and Lyengar, S.K. (2008). DNA Bank. Wiley Encyclopedia of Clinical Trials. 1-11.

The Future
Our vision is to continue to expand GRA as an ongoing national research enabling facility that will provide a resource to enhance the research and collaborative capacity of publicly-funded research in the study of health and disease via processing and distributing clinical and epidemiological materials. Our goal is to provide appropriately consented bio-specimen resources through an ethically-based system that will both protect the rights and privacy of participants and allow for open access by the research community to expedite research into the causes and treatments of disease in Australia.


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'I've got the best job for you dad. Your shaky arm will be perfect for it!'

Children… honest and insightful. Their innocence warms the heart. But what words do you use to explain to a child that daddy has an incurable brain disease? What words tell them that in time he may not be able to play football in the park, let alone feed himself? What words help them understand that in the later stages, dementia may also strike? Aged just 36, this was the reality that faced Steve Hartley. Parkinson's disease didn't care he was a fit, healthy, a young dad and devoted husband. It also didn't seem to care his family had no history of it. The key to defeating Parkinson's disease is early intervention, and thanks to a global research team, led by NeuRA, we're pleased to announce that early intervention may be possible. Your support, alongside national and international foundations Shake it Up Australia and the Michael J Fox Foundation, researchers have discovered that a special protein, found in people with a family history of the disease increases prior to Parkinson’s symptoms developing. This is an incredible step forward, because it means that drug therapies, aimed at blocking the increase in the protein, can be administered much earlier – even before symptoms strike. The next step is to understand when to give the drug therapies and which people will most benefit from it. But we need your help. A gift today will support vital research and in time help medical professionals around the world treat Parkinson’s disease sooner, with much better health outcomes. Thank you, in advance, for your support.