About the Lowy Biorepository

The Lowy Biorepository follows Good Laboratory Practice in all aspects of specimen transport, processing and inventory. We offer monitored long-term storage to maintain specimen integrity and a rapid on-demand specimen retrieval service, allowing investigators to focus on their research and avoid unnecessary investment in equipment, staffing and storage facilities.


Mission Statement

The Lowy Biorepository aims to support cancer research by providing access to relevant, high quality and well-annotated biospecimens.

Key Objectives

1. Store patient specimens in good order, and with accurate records of provenance.

2. Ensure systems are in place for the accurate storage and retrieval of biospecimens.

3. Effectively derive value-added specimens from primary tissue sources.

4. Provide a timely and cost-efficient supply of biospecimens and/or their derivatives to researchers both internationally and within Australia.

5. Provide researchers with mechanisms to identify and request access to appropriate biospecimens.

6. Carry out all activities while maintaining participant privacy and adhering to relevant national and international ethical guidelines.


Specimen storage options

We offer a variety of temperature ranges at one facility to accommodate the exact temperature requirements of your biospecimens:
•    Ambient (18°C to 25°C)
•    Ultra-Low / Ultra-Cold (–80°C to –95°C)
•    Vapour Phase Liquid Nitrogen (–135°C to –196°C)
•    Dry-nitrogen shippers to transport frozen samples


Other services

We provide a complete collection, processing, storage and distribution service for biospecimens from a wide range of disease states as well as healthy tissue, including assistance with tailoring a Collection Protocol to suit your research requirements. Contact the Lowy Biorepository Manager to discuss your banking needs: biorepository@unsw.edu.au.


Dr Anusha Hettiaratchi
Phone: +61 2 9385 1493
Jann Schwensen
Clinical Research Nurse
Phone: +61 2 9385 1493
Pearl Zhu
Technical Officer
Phone: +61 2 9385 1379
Diane Schipp
Data Manager
Phone: +61 2 9385 1379

The governance of the Lowy Biorepository and its operations are performed by the following committees:

Lowy Biorepository Management Committee (BMC)

The BMC is responsible for reviewing the extent to which the Lowy Biorepository has met its key objectives and for providing advice to the Operations Committee as to how this can best be achieved. In undertaking this task, the BMC reviews reports from the Audit Committee, Specimen Access Committee and the Biorepository Operations Group which will be tabled at each BMC meeting. The BMC ensures that all money, property and resources are properly used, managed and accounted for, and oversees compliance with all relevant legal and regulatory requirements

Dr David Coomber (Chair)
Prof Nicholas Hawkins
A/Prof Grainne Moran
A/Prof Elizabeth Salisbury
Prof Robyn Ward


Lowy Biorepository Audit Committee (AC)

The AC is responsible for the independent auditing of biospecimens, data and processes within the Lowy Biorepository. They develop and execute a program of auditing that is capable of identifying significant inadequacies or omissions of process or data within the Biorepository.

The AC provides routine reports on their methods and findings, and will also immediately advise the BMC of any significant discrepancies of data or inadequacies of process that they identify.

Ms Nicki Meagher (Chair)
Ms Allison Arndt
Dr Chris Brownlee
Dr Sandra Chaverot


Lowy Biorepository Specimen Access Committee (SAC)

The SAC is responsible for resolving disputes regarding the distribution of specimens held within the Lowy Biorepository. In particular, where Primary Investigator (PI) and Third Party Investigator (TPI) cannot agree to terms for the distribution of specimens, then the matter will be referred to the SAC for resolution. The SAC will also be responsible for determining distribution of specimens where a PI is no longer available to provide advice regarding a collection. The SAC may also appoint an alternate PI in such cases, who then has initial responsibility for the distribution of specimens in response to third party requests.

In reaching a decision regarding a tissue request from a TPI, the SAC will take into account the amount and quality of specimens available within the Biorepository, as well as the scientific merit of and importance of the research of the TPI. They will also consider the difficulty and cost of procuring the specimens, their relative rarity, and alternate studies (current or future) that may make use of the specimens.

Decisions of the SAC regarding the distribution of specimens are final. Where a PI refuses to distribute specimens to a third party against the recommendations of the SAC, then the PI may be asked to remove the collection from the Biorepository.

Dr Phoebe Phillips (Chair)
Dr Caroline Ford
A/Prof Noel Whitaker
Ms Rachel Williams

A selection of research publications arising from specimens and data obtained from the Lowy Biorepository:

Sigglekow ND, Pangon L, Brummer T, et al. Mutated in colorectal cancer protein modulates the NFκB pathway. Anticancer Research 2012;32:73–9.

Wong JJ, Hawkins NJ, Ward RL, et al. Methylation of the 3p22 region encompassing MLH1 is representative of the CpG island methylator phenotype in colorectal cancer. Modern Pathology 2011;24:396–411.

Hicks S, Ward RL, Hawkins NJ. Immunohistochemistry for PMS2 and MSH6 alone can replace a four antibody panel for mismatch repair deficiency screening in colorectal adenocarcinoma. Pathology 2011;43:84–5.

Kwok CK, Ward RL, Hawkins NJ, et al. Detection of allelic imbalance in MLH1 expression by pyrosequencing serves as a tool for the identification of germline defects in Lynch syndrome. Familial Cancer 2010;9:345–56.

Hill V, Hesson LB, Dansranjavin T, et al. Identification of 5 novel genes methylated in breast and other epithelial cancers. Mol Cancer 2010;9:51

Samuel MS, Suzuki H, Buchert M, et al. Elevated Dnmt3a activity promotes polyposis in ApcMin mice by relaxing extracellular restraints on Wnt signalling. Gastroenterology 2009;137:902–13

Carr NJ, Mahajan H, Tan KL, et al. Serrated and non-serrated polyps of the colorectum: their prevalence in an unselected case series and correlation of BRAF mutation analysis with the diagnosis of sessile serrated adenoma. J Clin Pathol 2009;62:516–18

Hawkins NJ, Lee J, Wong JJ, et al. MGMT methylation is associated primarily with the germline C > T SNP (rs16906252) in colorectal cancer and normal colonic mucosa. Modern Pathology 2009;22:1588–99

Packham D, Ward RL, Lin VA, et al. Implementation of novel pyrosequencing assays to screen for common mutations of BRAF and KRAS in a cohort of sporadic colorectal cancers. Diagnostic Molecular Pathology 2009;18:62–71

Webster LR, Lee SF, Ringland C, Morey AL, et al. Poor-prognosis estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer identified by histopathologic subclassification. Clin Cancer Res 2008;14:6625–33

Hitchins MP, Wong JJL, Suthers G, et al. Inheritance of a cancer-associated MLH1 germ-line epimutation. New Engl J Med (2007) 356:697–705.

Hitchins MP, Ward RL. Erasure of MLH1 methylation in spermatozoa - implications for epigenetic inheritance. Nat Genet 2007;39:1289

Heinzelmann-Schwarz VA, Scolyer RA, Scurry JP, et al. Low meprin α expression differentiates primary ovarian mucinous carcinoma from gastrointestinal cancers that commonly metastasise to the ovaries. J Clin Pathol 2007;60:622–6

Hettiaratchi, A, Hawkins, NJ, McKenzie, GL, et al. The collagenase-1 (MMP-1) gene promoter polymorphism - 1607/2G is associated with favourable prognosis in patients with colorectal cancer. British Journal of Cancer 2007;96:783–792

Hitchins MP, Lin VA, Buckle A, et al. Epigenetic inactivation of a cluster of genes flanking MLH1 in microsatellite unstable colorectal cancer. Cancer Research 2007;67(19):9107–16

Wong JJ, Hawkins NJ, Ward RL. Colorectal cancer: a model for epigenetic tumourigenesis. Gut 2007;56:140–48

Colebatch A, Hitchins M, Williams R, et al. The role of MYH and microsatellite instability in the development of sporadic colorectal cancer. Brit J Cancer 2006;95:1239–43

Brown DA, Stephan C, Ward RL, et al. Measurement of serum levels of macrophage inhibitory cytokine 1 combined with prostate-specific antigen improves prostate cancer diagnosis. Clin Cancer Res 2006;12:89–96

Hitchins M, Suter C, Wong J, et al. Germline epimutations of APC are not associated with inherited colorectal polyposis. Gut 2006;55:586–7


All publications arising from research undertaken on specimens obtained from the facility should feature the following acknowledgement statement:
Biospecimens and data used in this research were obtained from the Lowy Biorepository, Lowy Cancer Research Centre, UNSW Sydney Australia.