A3BC MSK Biobank

The A3BC is a national biobanking and information network to improve the health of men, women and children living with arthritis and autoimmune conditions.

The network includes more than 70 rheumatology clinicians and researchers, and over 60 recruitment sites, biobanks and research laboratories.

It collects a broad range of linked biological information (such as genetics, microbiome), patient-reported details (via the ARAD Registry) and medical data. The information is then integrated and examined using large-scale data analytics.

It is a comprehensive, national resource to support Australian researchers and doctors to deliver the best diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for those with arthritis and autoimmune conditions… and hopefully find a cure.

We aim to:

  1. Establish a national biobank network to collect, process and store a broad range of high-quality biospecimens for biological research
  2. Integrate biospecimen information with national datasets, including patient-reported, electronic medical record, cancer/death registry and Commonwealth data.
  3. Analyse these integrated, large-scale datasets to identify and study potential patterns of significance for patients and the healthcare system.
  4. Translate discoveries to improve disease prediction, identify more precise treatment, inform prevention strategies, and hopefully find a cure for arthritis and autoimmunity.

… To give the right care, to the right patient, at the right time!

Professor Lyn March AMProfessor Lyn March AM

Project Lead and Coordinating Principal Investigator
Australian Arthritis and Autoimmune Biobank Collaborative (Uni Syd)
Liggins Professor of Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Epidemiology
Institute of Bone and Joint Research, Kolling Institute
Head of Department
Department of Rheumatology, Royal North Shore Hospital

Lyn is the Head of Rheumatology at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital and Liggins Professor of Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology at Sydney University.

Lyn graduated from medicine with first class honours from the University of Sydney, then went on to gain a PhD from Sydney and a MSc from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has been an active clinician and researcher for more than 25 years. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her significant services in the areas of rheumatology and clinical epidemiology as an academic, researcher and clinician. She led the international expert group that generated the latest global burden of musculoskeletal disease data. Lyn is an executive member of OMERACT the international group standardising patient reported outcome measures in rheumatology, on the Executive Committee for the Global Alliance for MSK Health, Co-lead of their Surveillance Task Force and member of their WHO working party. Lyn advocates to raise the profile of musculoskeletal conditions and to improve evidence-based patient care through policy development and translational and discovery research. She co-led the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation’s MSK Network during the development of the MSK Models of Care now part of Leading Better Value Care. Her latest challenge is the establishment of the A3BC – a national collaboration linking the patient outcomes registry ARAD with a new biospecimens network to deliver precision medicine to the individual patient and build a national research resource working to find a cure for arthritis and autoimmune rheumatic conditions.

Dr Tom Lynch Dr Tom Lynch

National Project Officer
Australian Arthritis and Autoimmune Biobank Collaborative (Uni Syd)
Institute of Bone and Joint Research, Kolling Institute
Department of Rheumatology, Royal North Shore Hospital

 Associate Professor Meilang Xue

Sutton Arthritis Research Laboratory, Kolling Institute
Australian Arthritis and Autoimmune Biobank Collaborative (Uni Syd)
Institute of Bone and Joint Research, Kolling Institute of Medical Research

Dr Marita Cross Dr Marita Cross

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Rheumatology, Royal North Shore Hospital
Australian Arthritis and Autoimmune Biobank Collaborative (Uni Syd)
Institute of Bone and Joint Research, Kolling Institute

Tahi Pumi - Research Assistant

Fiona Howard - Project Officer

The A3BC includes more than 70 leading national arthritis/autoimmune clinicians and researchers across more than 60 prominent health and research sites. It includes eight biobank nodes to collect and store biospecimens.

Recruitment / Collection Sites

New South Wales (NSW)

Northern Sydney Local Health District

  • Royal North Shore Hospital
  • Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital

St Vincent’s Health Australia

  • North Sydney Mater Private Hospital

Ramsay Health Care

  • North Shore Private Hospital

South Western Sydney Local Health District

  • Liverpool Hospital
  • Campbelltown Hospital South Eastern

Sydney Local Health District

  • St George Hospital
  • Prince of Wales Hospital

Western Sydney Local Health District

  • Westmead Hospital
  • Blacktown Hospital

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network

  • Children's Hospital at Westmead
  • Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick

Hunter New England Local Health District

  • John Hunter Hospital

Sydney Local Health District

  • Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
  • Concord Hospital

BJC Health (Parramatta, Chatswood)

Sydney Adventist Hospital

Peninsula Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

ACT Health and Community Service

  • Canberra Hospital

Western Australia (WA)

East Metropolitan Health Service

  • Royal Perth Hospital

South Metropolitan Health Service

  • Fiona Stanley Hospital

Child and Adolescent Health Service

  • Perth Children’s Hospital

Victoria (VIC)

Australian Rheumatology Association Database (ARAD)

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

The Royal Children's Hospital

Monash Health

  • Monash Children’s Hospital
  • Monash Medical Centre

Melbourne Health

  • Royal Melbourne Hospital

Cabrini Health

  • Cabrini Hospital

Queensland (QLD)

Metro South Hospital and Health Service

  • Princess Alexandra Hospital
  • Logan Hospital

Metro North Hospital and Health Service

  • Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital
  • Redcliffe Hospital

Children's Health Qld Hospital & Health Service

  • Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital

Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service

  • Gold Coast University Hospital

Paradise Arthritis and Rheumatology

Queensland Rheumatology Services (Red Hill)

South Australia (SA)

Southern Adelaide Local Health Network

  • Flinders Medical Centre
  • Noarlunga Hospital
  • Marion GP Plus Health Care Centre

Central Adelaide Local Health Network

  • Royal Adelaide Hospital
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Women's and Children's Health Network

  • Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Northern Adelaide Local Health Network

  • Lyell McEwin Hospital
  • Modbury Hospital


Processing / Storage / Analysis Sites

New South Wales (NSW)

Institute for Bone and Joint Research (USyd)*

The NSW Statewide Biobank*

Hunter Medical Research Institute

Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research

Australian Institute of Health Innovation

Victoria (VIC)

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute*

Australian Rheumatology Association Database (ARAD)

Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Canberra Hospital*

John Curtin School of Medicine, Australian National University

Queensland (QLD)

Diamantina Institute, University of Queensland*

Institute for Health & Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology*

South Australia (SA)

Basil Hetzel Institute*

Flinders Medical Centre*

Western Australia (WA)

Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (South)*

* National A3BC processing and storage nodes

Dr Lara Bereza-Malcolm and Assoc. Professor Meilang Xue Analysis of associations between microbiome, inflammatory response and environmental factors in Rheumatoid Arthritis.

  • Dr Lara Bereza-Malcolm and Assoc. Professor Meilang Xue

A3BC NSW node and partners What is the optimal time from blood collection to processing for the integrity of serum/plasma aliquots in regard to downstream assay performance?

  • A3BC NSW node and partners

A3BC nodes in each state Piloting of national A3BC procedures, including e-consenting, online questionnaires, and novel methods for peripheral blood mononucleocyte cells processing and RNA collection-storage.

  • A3BC nodes in each state

The A3BC was formed to give researchers a greater chance of answering questions such as:

  • Why are some people more likely to develop arthritis?
  • Why do some people develop a worse type of the illness than others?
  • Why do some people respond well to a treatment while others respond poorly?
  • Which biological markers (biomarkers) predict disease progression and treatment suitability?
  • Which risk factors could be used to better manage these conditions or even lead to their prevention?

Specific research questions to be addressed by researchers through A3BC activity include:

  • Among people taking methotrexate and/or biologics for the treatment of arthritis or autoimmune disease, are there clinical or biological (incl. genomic, microbiomic) data associations which predict response to treatment and suggest improved models of care?
  • What are the long-term outcomes for people undergoing therapy for these diseases following new (biologic or biosimilar) versus traditional treatments?
  • Among people undergoing therapy for these diseases, does the characterisation profile of their microbiome associate with a change in their response to therapy?
  • What are the cytokine profiles produced by synovial and peripheral blood mononuclear cells derived from people with arthritis and how do these profiles change in response to in vitro biologic therapies -(bDMARDs)?

A key ingredient in achieving these goals is to build a state-of-the-art national resource, involving large-scale data collection and analyses of biospecimens. Given the complex nature of these arthritic/autoimmune conditions, research discovery will always be limited unless a large-scale, data-rich resource such as the A3BC is developed and widely used.


The A3BC hope to recruit more than 50,000 participants with various forms of arthritis and produce information on participant biology/biomarkers (such as genetics), environmental and lifestyle factors, clinical factors, and health service/prescription for more precise detection of risk factors, improved treatments and prediction tools for these conditions.

The initial scope of A3BC research is to better understand biological and environmental risk factors in Rheumatoid Arthritis, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Vasculitis, Myositis and Sjogren’s Syndrome. Once the A3BC has established these diseases within national operations, additional conditions such as Lower Back Pain, Gout, Scleroderma, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Osteoarthritis are intended for future collection.

This project has been initiated by the lead study doctor, Professor Lyn March AM, in collaboration with more than 50 other leading national doctors and researchers from over 50 hospitals, universities and research institutes across Australia. The A3BC is funded by the CLEARbridge Foundation (a philanthropic organisation) and A3BC partner nodes across Australia. Further Commonwealth funding is also being sought.

The A3BC is committed to developing a complex, yet easily used solution to a challenging set of conditions.

For more information:
Please visit the A3BC website www.a3bc.org.au or

A3BC Headquarters Project Team:
Email - info@a3bc.org.au
Phone - 02 9463 1891

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