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Brain and Biospecimen Repositories

Brain and biospecimen repositories are an important resource for the study of many neurodegenerative diseases and disorders, including Parkinson's disease. Repositories store and catalogue various tissues with accompanying demographic information, disease stage, and clinical data from each donor, providing invaluable resources for modern, molecular-based research aimed at the development of new diagnostics and personalized therapies. The following are some examples of resources funded through NINDS grants and cooperative agreements.

Researchers interested in obtaining biospecimens should contact the appropriate repository for related requirements. Please note that some facilities have restrictions on access to and usage of biospecimens.

Additional resources can be found through the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORTER): http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm


NINDS National Brain and Tissue Resource for Parkinson’s Disease and Related Disorders (NBTR-PD) at the Banner Sun Health Research Institute (BSHRI)

The Banner Sun Health Research Institute's (BSHRI) Brain and Body Donation Program (BBDP) is located in Sun City, Arizona and has been enrolling healthy elderly individuals and people with Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurological disorders willing to donate their brain and other biospecimens for research purposes since 1986. This longitudinal, community-based study performs standardized cognitive and motor assessments of study participants who are then autopsied at death. Brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid are available from normal elderly persons and those with PD, AD, Alzheimer's disease with Lewy bodies (ADLB), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and incidental Lewy body disease (ILBD). In addition, fixed and frozen tissue are available from all major bodily organs and tissues. A unique feature of this study is the short postmortem interval (PMI) with a median of three hours for all cases, making the banked tissue useful for all forms of molecular biological studies utilizing genomics, gene expression (RNA), and proteomics.
National Brain and Tissue Resource for Parkinson’s Disease and Related Disorders at BSHRI
Through a cooperative agreement mechanism (U24NS072026), the NINDS provides support for the BBDP to specifically expand enrollment and longitudinal clinical assessment of people with PD and related disorders, as well as to bank and distribute related high quality biospecimens as described above. Qualified researchers can register and submit biospecimen and data requests at the link below. Distribution of specimens and information will be approved by an associated Resource Committee.
To request access to BBDP samples, including those for PD and related disorders, please register at: https://brainandbodydonationprogram.org/Account/UserRegister.aspx


Columbia University: New York Brain Bank

The New York Brain Bank (NYBB) at Columbia University was established to collect postmortem human brains to meet the needs of neuroscientists investigating specific psychiatric and neurological disorders. The tasks of the NYBB include collection and processing of human postmortem brain samples for research, neuropathological evaluation and diagnosis, storage and computerized inventory of brain samples, and distribution of brain samples to clinicians and scientists whose research has been approved by their Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Coriell Institute for Medical Research

The Coriell Biobank is regarded as the most diverse collection of cell lines and DNA available to the international research community. In addition to high-quality biospecimens, Coriell also maintains tissue, plasma, serum, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid. By developing and maintaining biorepositories as national and international resources for the study of human diseases, aging, and neurological disease, Coriell is committed to providing the scientific community with well-characterized, cell cultures and DNA preparations, annotated with rich phenotypic data. Coriell host biobanks for many neurodegenerative conditions including Parkonsonism sponsored by both the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Aging. Please click on the name of the institute to be directed to the biobank catalog sponsored by each for details on obtaining research samples. Included in the NINDS collection, are the newly available Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells for both Huntington's disease and Parkinsonism.

Harvard University/McLean Hospital: Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (HBTRC)

The Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center at McLean Hospital is a centralized resource for the collection and distribution of human brain specimens for brain research. The HBTRC provides tissues from individuals with Huntington's chorea, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders, as well as normal control tissue for neuroscience research at no charge. Tissue samples are available as fresh quick-frozen tissue blocks or coronal sections (nitrogen vapor or dry ice frozen), passive frozen hemispheres (custom dissection of specific anatomic regions), and formalin-fixed hemispheres (custom dissection of specific anatomic regions). Researchers should consult the website to access request forms and other procedures for obtaining biospecimens.

Johns Hopkins Brain Resource Center--(website under construction)

The Johns Hopkins Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinson's Disease has a repository of postmortem brain tissues for research available to investigators in our center and also to the Parkinson's research community at large. Requests for tissues should be addressed to Dr. Olga Pletnikova (opletni1@jhmi.edu), manager of the Brain Repository. The decision to provide tissue samples is made by Dr. Juan Troncoso (troncoso@jhmi.edu), director of the Neuropathology Core, and Dr. Ted Dawson (tdawson@jhmi.edu), Principal investigator.

Mayo Clinic Jacksonville: Alzheimer's Disease Research Center

The Mayo Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) is one of 30 Alzheimer's disease research centers across the country designated and funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. The Mayo ADRC is jointly based in Rochester MN and Jacksonville FL and is organized into five cores. The Neurology Core is directed by Dr. Dennis Dickson who additionally operates a brain bank that evaluates brains from individuals with memory and motor disorders under the auspices of the Mayo Clinic ADRC (NIA P50-AG16574 and P50-AG25711) as well as the Mayo Parkinson's Disease Center of Excellence (NINDS P50-40256) funded by the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Brains originate from five major sources: the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (NIA AG16574) and Alzheimer Disease Patient Registry (NIA AG06786), the Religious Orders Study at Rush Medical Center in Chicago (NIA AG14449), the Einstein Aging Study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx (NIA AG03949), and the State of Florida Alzheimer Disease Initiative. Fixed and frozen brain samples are obtained at autopsy and used for diagnostic evaluation and research studies that include neurohistology, immunohistochemistry, confocal and electron microscopy, image analysis, as well as immunoassays (Western blots and ELISA).

University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine: Brain Endowment Bank

University of Miami (UM) Brain Endowment Bank was established in 1986 in order to obtain post-mortem neurological tissues for human brain research programs. The overall objective of the Brain Endowment Bank is to support basic and clinical research activities by providing a systematic method for obtaining detailed pre-mortem clinical information, developing procedures for optimizing brain autopsies, cryopreserving neuropathological specimens, and obtaining neuropathological diagnoses after death. The brain bank is actively engaged in community awareness activities that inform the public about how diseases affect the brain, the importance of donation, and new treatments for brain illnesses. The Brain Endowment Bank distributes brain tissues to scientists worldwide who are investigating neurodegenerative or neuropsychiatric diseases. Please visit the website for further details concerning biospecimen distribution.

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine: Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR)

The Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR) promotes and conducts multidisciplinary clinical and basic research studies aimed at increasing the understanding of the causes and mechanisms leading to brain dysfunction and degeneration in Alzheimers's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), Frontotemporal disease (FTD), Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and other neurodegenerative disorders that occur more frequently with advancing age. Additionally, the University of Pennsylvania Alzheimer's Disease Core Center (ADCC) also provides brain tissue to qualified researchers; however, both the ADCC and the CNDR tissue banks are core facilities that are part of NIH funded multi-component projects with the specific charge of supporting the research conducted by the project grant co-investigators. These project grant co-investigators therefore have priority for access to these samples. Every effort is made by CNDR and ADCC staff to accommodate the needs of outside investigators where possible. Please visit the website for details concerning biospecimen distribution.

University of Washington Medicine: Pacific Northwest Dementia and Aging Neuropathology Group (PANDA)

PANDA is a collaborative effort between Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland, OR, and the University of Washington (UW) Medical Center in Seattle, WA. The goals of PANDA are twofold. First, we apply the most current structural and molecular criteria to the classification of neurodegenerative diseases so as to provide families of the deceased with contemporary, accurate diagnoses. Second, we procure and maintain donated tissue in optimal states for dissemination to scientists throughout the world.

Last updated December 23, 2013