The Australian Autism Biobank: An Invitation to participate

Over the past decade there have been considerable advances in the understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD); however the underlying causes remain largely unknown. It is becoming increasingly apparent that combinations of biological (genes) and environmental factors are involved. Although there are many similarities in the symptoms of autism, children with ASD can be very different from one another. By studying the similarities and differences among children with ASD, we will gain a better understanding of the many underlying causes of this spectrum of conditions.

The Australian Autism Biobank (AAB) is a defining project of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism CRC). Our aim is to collect detailed information on Australian children with ASD and their families to understand how genes and gene combinations express themselves to result in the different types of ASD. This information will contribute to research both in Australia and internationally and we expect that this will potentially be one of the largest ASD biobanks in the world.

The Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre is one of four sites (Vic, WA, NSW & QLD) for the AAB, and we would like to invite families with children with ASD between the ages of 2 – 17 years to participate. Participation in the AAB will involve:

  1. A series of questionnaires to be completed on your child and family
  2. Clinical assessments of behaviour and cognition of your child
  3. Physical measurements (height, weight, head circumference) of your child and each biological parent
  4. Blood sample collection from your child and each biological parent

Your data will be stored at the Wesley Research Institute in Brisbane, together with data from the other sites and your samples will be under the custodianship of the Autism CRC.

The AAB has been approved by the necessary institutional ethics committees and your personal information will be protected, with no identifying information shared. Rather, your data will be labelled by a code number allocated to you.

If you would like to participate in this important, and indeed, historic project, or would like more information, please contact Ms. Melanie Muniandy, Research Officer of the AAB on phone: 03 9479 5421; email: m.muniandy@latrobe.edu.au; or Professor Cheryl Dissanayake on phone: 03 479 1162; email: c.dissanayake@latrobe.edu.au.

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