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Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank

Revolutionising schizophrenia research

Available now

The first of Intersect's Innovation projects the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB) project supports the Schizophrenia Research Institute and was delivered in November 2009.

The ASRB web portal replaces several existing repositories of information currently used by the ASRB, and provides a secure environment for the collection and storage of this information. It has fine grained and flexible security, enabling online access to information for researchers in a controlled manner. This makes the ASRB repository a valuable research resource. It is the central resource for the entry, upload and download of the following information for the ASRB participants: clinical assessments; MRI brain scans; and management of genetic (blood) samples.

The Clinical Assessment System laptop software enables officers to assess participants in the field and upload the information to the ASRB web portal later.

ASRB screenshot
The ASRB portal is the repository for the information collected by the ASRB and is the management interface for all participant personal information. Above is a screenshot of the ASRB Clinical Assessment System designed by Intersect.

Background

The Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB) project is the first of Intersect's Innovation projects.  Intersect's Innovation Committee identified the project as having high community value, serving a significant national initiative with research centred in NSW.


Schizophrenia is characterised by complex clinical symptoms, cognitive deficits, and subtle structural brain changes that are only evident with sophisticated image analysis techniques. The physiological causes and manifestations of schizophrenia are largely unknown. Collecting and studying images and genetic information on a national scale has the potential to give researchers novel insights into the nature and causes of schizophrenia.

A national coalition of researchers led by scientists based at the University of Newcastle have commenced data collection for the ASRB which will ultimately be available to all schizophrenia researchers in Australia and internationally. The initiative is collecting clinical and cognitive assessments, genetic data and MRI brain scans of 4,000 individuals. Active data collection commenced in 2007 and will continue until 2011. 

The ASRB is administered by the Schizophrenia Research Institute, (formerly NISAD), overseen by Professor Vaughan Carr.

Benefits

The ASRB was initially implemented with a rudimentary portal for researcher access, but facilities need to be extended in a number of ways to enable effective use for research. Intersect’s Innovation Project has rebuilt the existing database, built a web interface and tools to enable authorised researchers to search, filter and browse the ASRB database; link metadata from the MRI images; and download MRI, genetic, and clinical information.


The ASRB project:
•    is a web portal giving access to the ASRB information for authorised researchers;
•    enables user-friendly functionality for browsing, searching and querying data and images held in the research bank;
•    links metadata into the database for improved search and filtering ability;
•    provides tools to assist preparation of MRI images and data to a research ready state (de-identification, cleaning and normalisation);
•    enables remote collaborators to upload collected information into the ASRB; and
•    enables researchers nationwide to download MRI, genetic, and clinical information from the ASRB for in-depth research studies.

Project sheet available here

ASRB was subsequently funded under NeCTAR to enhance and complete the existing ASRB systems, developed by this Intersect Innovation Project in 2009/10.

See more: http://www.intersect.org.au/ASRB2