Adelaidean - News from the University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide Australia
Winter 2014 Issue
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Ultra-cold facility delivers security for researchers


Professor Julie Owens in the Biobank
Freezer failure can spell disaster for a research project. Now laboratory materials at the University of Adelaide are being protected by one of the most advanced freezer management initiatives.

A new secure, ultra-cold storage system is being rolled out at the University of Adelaide to protect valuable research and archival materials.

Freezer failure is one of the most common adverse events at universities and can ruin irreplaceable samples, disrupt vital research and place grant funding at risk.

The University of Adelaide has taken a lead in Australia with a three-step Biobank project, which includes a laboratory information management system, secure freezer storage and extensive guidelines.

"Once successfully implemented, the benefits of the University's approach to freezer management will be significant," says Professor Mike Brooks, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

"In addition to constructing a new, purpose-built, secure facility, we are providing researchers with additional tools to achieve best practice management of their research materials."

Biobank follows a 2011 audit which revealed the University had at least 110 minus 80C freezers, and not all of them were being adequately maintained or monitored, leaving the University with a significant risk.

A major increase in research activity over the past five years also means demand for freezer space has soared.

Carol Hutchings, Project Manager in Professor Brooks' office, says it will take about 12 months to progressively deploy all three initiatives throughout the University.

Biobank includes a total of 36 new freezers which will be centrally located on the North Terrace and Waite campuses in purpose-built facilities that are secure and monitored.

They each have complete power back-up, with alarms providing alerts in the event of failure. All freezers and contents are recorded and monitored by the FreezerPro management system, which has a full reporting capability.

To improve security and ensure insurance standards are met, schools will be given guidelines to improve the management of their local laboratory freezers.

Among the major users is the School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health. School Head Professor Julie Owens says that knowing their work is secure and protected will provide researchers great peace of mind.

"As far as we know, no other university in Australia has such a comprehensive and institution-wide ultra-cold storage system which covers all three key areas to protect and manage our vital research materials," she says.

Georget Reaiche-Miller, who has 10 years' experience in the University's microbiology and immunology laboratories, has been appointed to manage Biobank and will assist all schools with their adoption of FreezerPro.

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