The University of Melbourne
4 files

Treatment-Resistant Schizophrenia Biobank


Brief description

The Treatment-Resistant Schizophrenia (TRS) Biobank includes cross-sectional data from more than 200 participants aged over 18, who contributed blood, neuroimaging, neuropsychological, and clinical information between 2012 and 2018. The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Mental Health, working with the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre (Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne), have collected data, biological samples and scanned brain images of participants with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, their family members, and healthy control participants to aid in the discovery of biomarkers in the future.

Full description

Around a third of people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia do not respond to the first-line medication treatment options currently available. The TRS Biobank, set up by the CRC for Mental Health, consists of three distinct groups of participants:

• volunteers with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, the majority of whom were treated with clozapine at the time of assessment (N = 114+);

• first degree relatives of the volunteers with a diagnosis of schizophrenia (N = 33+); and

• unrelated individuals with no psychiatric diagnoses (N = 67+).

Blood, neuroimaging data, neuropsychological data and other clinical assessment information were collected and maintained by the CRC for Mental Health for use in the identification of biomarkers to assist in developing targeted treatments.

The biobank includes:

• Blood (N = 190+): including aliquots of serum, plasma, platelets, and red blood cells.

• Neuroimaging (N = 135+): including structural, diffusion-tensor and resting state imaging collected on a 3T MRI scanner.

• Neuropsychology (N = 200+): including handedness, neurological evaluation, pre-morbid and current IQ, set-shifting, working memory, and spatial span.

• Clinical (N = 200+): including demographics, diagnosis, medication, admissions, positive psychotic symptoms, negative psychotic symptoms, depression, substance use, childhood trauma, and nutrition.


The CRC for Mental Health has established large cohorts and uses advanced technological capabilities such as genomics, proteomics, lipidomics and metalomics to identify biomarkers for research into Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and mood disorders. These biobanks provide an important resource to discover biomarkers in real populations and ensure our research discoveries are integrated into medical and health care practice.

The CRC for Mental Health is in the process of developing an integrated clinical data management system through collaborations with the data management company Arcitecta and the support of Research Platform Services, University of Melbourne. This system will allow efficient management and analysis of the Biobank, in addition to the ability to securely share the CRC’s biobank data. The infographic attached above provides an overview of how the system will function to benefit CRC research. More information on the CRC’s collaboration with Arcitecta can be found online.

The Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne has agreed to become the custodian for the Treatment-Resistant Schizophrenia Biobank after 30 June 2018 when the CRC's term expires.

Significance statement

The original protocol indicated data within the TRS Biobank could be used for future investigations in the following areas:

• to discover and validate biomarkers that may be useful for the diagnosis of schizophrenia;

• to investigate the distinction between sub-types of schizophrenia that may differ in etiology or outcome;

• to determine which antipsychotic drugs a particular individual diagnosed with schizophrenia may best respond to; and

• to enhance the monitoring of individual patient response to particular antipsychotics.

The TRS Biobank will not be openly accessible; however, researchers are able to apply for access to de-identified data for individual projects providing independent Human Research Ethics Committee approval and after application review by the CRC. Applications (see application form above) can be made to the CRC for Mental Health at:


The biobank was funded by the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Mental Health. The CRC programme supports industry-led collaborations between industry, researchers and the community.