Digitally created image of a double helix

Genetic Repositories Australia (GRA)


GRA Facility Hours of Operation

The GRA Facility is open Monday to Friday 9AM to 5PM. For enquiries please phone +612 9399 1746.

Service Requests

GRA currently receives samples from many research projects on a regular basis. Since operations commenced over 6500 samples have been received in the GRA facility and continue to expand. Samples are received from across New South Wales and interstate (Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland). We continue to provide high throughput support services for many NHMRC, ARC, NIH and other funded research projects. The number of samples received in 2010 exceeded the previous 2009 yearly total by 45%. GRA distributed more than 1500 samples to 18 research projects in 2010, an increase of ~250% from the previous year.

GRA service requests currently cover:

Cell Line Establishment (EBV Transformation)
DNA Extraction:

  • human whole blood – fresh, frozen, compromised (up to 10ml)
  • saliva (Oragene®)
  • cell lysates
  • cultured cells
  • additional sample types upon request
  • Secure Sample Storage
  • Epigenetic Studies: Users who anticipate wishing to perform epigenetic studies are encouraged to consider collecting sufficient blood for DNA extraction from both blood as well as cell line since the epigenetic signature of the genome in blood may be different to that observed in lymphoblastoid cell lines

Sample Processing

To ensure consistent high quality DNA purification, GRA utilises a fully automated large volume nucleic acid purification system (QIAGEN Autopure LS). The Autopure LS combines the advantages of automation with QIAGENs tested PUREGENE chemistry to purify DNA. The acquisition allows for a major increase in GRAs productivity and research efficiency that will enhance the research activities, grant success and competitiveness of all Australian researchers in a range of areas resulting in a major competitive opportunity for GRA to become the national leader in this area.

How To Apply & Ethics Approval

All policies and processes are in accord with NHMRC Enabling Facility requirements. You are strongly advised to contact the GRA Facility Manager to discuss your application first before submission.

Researchers requesting access to GRA Services and/or Materials, please phone +612 9399 1746 for a GRA Facility Access Application Form which includes a Statement of Research Intent in accordance with the guidelines listed in the GRA Access Policy. All projects using GRA must have Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) ethics approval. An electronic copy of the completed GRA Facility Access Application Form together with a copy of your institutional HREC approval for the intended project must be sent by email to

UNSW HREC has approved Information Consent forms for GRA collection and distribution of samples. We suggest users to incorporate these into their own ethics application. The approved information sheet and consent form will be provided upon request.

There are subsidised user charges associated with GRA. Enquiries for future use or inclusion of the facility as part of NHMRC and other grant applications are welcome. Further information is available by contacting
Accessing Material and/or Services

Applications for access to GRA Services and/or Materials by researchers are processed by the GRA Facility Manager and reviewed by the GRA Management Committee. In general, access will be granted if evidence is provided that appropriate Institutional HREC approval has been granted and the responsible investigators/researchers have undertaken in writing to abide by the GRA conditions of use as stated by the GRA Services and Material Transfer Agreement. The GRA Management Committee retains the right to prioritise applications for services and will not necessarily support all funded or fundable projects. This ruling applies irrespective of the type of service or amount of material requested from GRA. Where a member of the GRA Management Committee has a conflict of interest, other qualified persons will assist in making the ruling under these guidelines. Researchers are reminded to download and read the GRA Access Policy before commencing your application. This Policy outlines important information about accessing GRA Services and/or Materials.

Information for researchers intending on submitting samples to GRA for processing or for those who wish to request sample material from GRA can be found in the following links:

GRA Sample Submission
Access to GRA Samples made available for Distribution
Current Projects

A significant number of NHMRC and ARC funded program and project grants and other research projects throughout Australia have already been supported by GRA’s research enabling capacities.

The GRA facility currently receives and processes samples from many research projects including:
Healthy Population
Memory and Ageing
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Parkinson’s Disease
First Episode Psychosis
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Mental Illness
Ageing and Neurodegeneration
Tourette Syndrome
Cerebral Palsy
A new project called the “Aussie Normals” to collect 2000 healthy participants to make cell lines and DNA available at cost to Australian scientists with appropriate ethics approval has recently commenced and we anticipate a high demand for these samples.

A full list of material appropriately consented and available for distribution through GRA can be found in the Biorepository Catalog

How are GRA samples used?

GRA collects, stores, and distributes DNA samples and cell lines which are derived from lymphocytes (white blood cells) from healthy people, people with many kinds of disorders as well as from unaffected family members. All researchers wishing to access the genetic material stored by GRA must first have approval from the relevant Human Research Ethics Committee for their project. Those researchers must then apply in writing to the GRA Management Committee, describing the intended use of the samples for approval for access to the samples. Access will be given only for the stated use. It is not possible to foresee all the potential projects that may use the genetic material, now or in the future. Researchers may be from non-profit research institutes, universities, etc or from commercial organisations from Australia or overseas.

Researchers using samples obtained from GRA may make discoveries which may be subject to patent applications or commercialisation. However, in this regard, such discoveries only arise from the analysis of many samples, and any individual sample will not be of benefit. No payment, compensation, royalty or any other financial benefit will be made which may result from the research facilitated by GRA. Note that GRA makes no claim on intellectual property arising from research undertaken on samples distributed by GRA. The storage and use of all genetic material will be conducted in accordance with the National Health & Medical Research Council’s Guidelines for Genetic Registers and Associated Genetic Material (1999), the Human Tissue Act (1984, amendments 2003), the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) and relevant Australian Legislation.


Genetic Repositories Australia (GRA) will take full measures to protect the privacy of all participants. The specimen will be assigned a unique identification number to protect privacy. GRA will not give out any personal information that can identify participants to the scientists who are approved to receive samples. Some information, such as age, disease status and gender, will be made available to enable the medical research to proceed. Any information that is obtained in connection with participant samples and that can be identified will remain confidential and will be disclosed only with permission or except as required by law. The researchers that use samples may publish or present results in scientific journals or scientific meetings. In any publication, information will be provided in such a way that participants cannot be identified.

Service Charges

Cost recovery for material obtained or services provided by GRA is essential to maintain the operational feasibility and sustainability of the facility. NHMRC Enabling Grant policy also encourages facilities to adopt cost recovery mechanisms. The cost recovery schedule is transparent and accurately reflects current costs associated with sample collection, processing, costs of consumables, storage and distribution charges. In all cases, fees are charged either on a partial (subsidised academic rate) or full cost recovery (fee-for-service) for the provision of GRA services and/or samples. The GRA Management Committee is charged with ensuring equity of access and approving projects seeking GRA support.

For further information on actual costs associated with GRA user charges contact


Accurate reporting of researcher usage of the GRA facility is important to secure NHMRC Enabling Grant funding, therefore a condition of access to GRA services is that GRA is acknowledged in all publications and is sent a copy of these publications.

For projects utilising GRA materials and/or services the following Acknowledgement must be used:

“DNA/Cell lines [delete as applicable] were provided by Genetic Repositories Australia, an Enabling Facility supported by NHMRC Grant 401184. Samples were originally collected by [insert name of Recruiting Scientist] of [insert name of Recruiting Scientist’s organisation]”.

Copies of publications are to be forwarded to the GRA Facility Manager.

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