Australian Environmental Specimen Bank

aesb logoEnvironmental Specimen Banks’ (ESBs) store many millions of samples in unique frozen archives. Most of the samples are archived at ultra-low temperatures to ensure the chemical and biological integrity of the samples over long periods of time.

The Australian Environmental Specimen Bank (AESB) is the first and only national biobank for the combined storage of both human and environmental samples that enable retrospective studies related to exposure assessment and environmental toxicology.

The archive supports longitudinal and cross-sectional studies to assess trends in exposure to:

  • chemical and biological hazards in the Australian population
  • identify emerging hazards
  • provide a scientific basis for policy and regulatory actions.

The facility was established in 2009 after Prof Jochen Mueller was awarded funding through the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Water, Heritage. The initial facility is located at UQ Dutton Park in Brisbane and incorporates both -20 and -80 degrees Celsius freezer storage. Currently, there are tens of thousands of samples stored in the AESB, including some which date back to the 1940’s, along with others collected by Professor Mueller in the 1990’s.

In 2021, additional funding was received from the Australian Research Council and Australian research and government partners to significantly expand the storage capacity and advance the capabilities of the national repository for samples from environmental or biomonitoring programs across Australia. In 2022, a new facility was constructed at UQ’s Long Pocket Precinct in Brisbane.  

The expansion will advance the AESB’s capabilities for samples to be collected and preserved from programs across Australia and will be a valuable resource for researchers conducting retrospective studies related to exposure assessment and environmental toxicity.

It is intended that the AESB will be managed as a nationally available resource for integrated exposure research into the future, and accessible to researchers across Australia.