The NSW Brain Banks focus on collecting the brain and spinal cord from donors with ageing and neurodegenerative conditions (SBB collection) as well as donors with alcohol related brain damage, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder (NSW BTRC collection) and healthy people without any disorders affecting the brain or spinal cord (collected by both SBB and NSW BTRC)

Brain tissue is usually collected within 48 hours of death. Details of age at death, gender, disease duration and postmortem interval accompanies all samples.

Where possible, one hemisphere of the brain is frozen to enable subsequent proteomic and genomic analysis while the other half is fixed in formalin for 2 weeks for tissue characterisation and subsequent histological studies. In cases with vascular or other asymmetric pathology both hemispheres are fixed to enable thorough characterisation to be carried out.

Cases are grouped into cohorts to facilitate research studies and collaboration. Approximate numbers of cases available for research are outlined below. Please note that the entire cohort may not be available for your specific research purposes. Factors that affect the number of available cases include:

  1. The region/s requested. Not all brain regions are available from all cases. Some regions are smaller or more frequently accessed so limited frozen tissue is available. For example, the substantia nigra of Lewy body disease cases and hippocampal tissue from cases with Alzheimer's disease cases and the matched controls for these groups are frequently requested and may be in short supply.
  2. The type/s of tissue requested. Fresh-frozen tissue is not collected on all cases. Formalin-fixed tissue is more often available.
  3. Inclusion and exclusion criteria. The number of cases available for a research study depends on the clinical or pathological criteria specified by the researcher. For example, fewer non-smoking alcoholics are available than alcoholic smokers.

Please consider these factors when completing the request enquiry form. You will need to detail the specific tissue requirements (i.e. regions(s) and amount), justify the number of cases requested and provide a brief project outline. The NSW Brain Banks will assess your request and confirm whether the tissue requested is available and provide an estimate of the cost of acquiring such tissue. Please note that the maximum numbers available for distribution are given below, but that full justification of the numbers required for your specific research question needs to be made with a credible power analysis. For large effect sizes in particular, fewer cases are needed, with replication of results better in cohorts collected from different brain banks to incorporate clinical, genetic, lifestyle and pathological protocol variabilities.

  • Schizophrenia (37) and matched controls (37)
  • Major depression (10) and matched controls (10)
  • Alcoholism and matched controls. Cohort numbers vary depending on a variety of factors such as presence of absence of cirrhosis of the liver, history of cigarette smoking and DSM-IV classification (e.g. hazardous use or dependence).
  • Alzheimer's disease (10)
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degenerations (TBC)
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies (TBC)
  • Parkinson's disease (TBC)
  • Multiple System Atrophy (11)
  • Motor Neuron Disease (TBC)
  • Huntington’s Disease (TBC)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (TBC)
  • Mixed Neurodegenerative Diseases (TBC)
  • Mixed Cerebrovascular and Neurodegenerative Diseases (TBC)

For information about how the tissue is characterised, please contact the appropriate brain bank. For neurodegenerative disorder cases and aged controls, please visit the Sydney Brain Bank. For alcohol-related, psychiatric disorders and age-matched controls, please visit the NSW Brain TRC.

Submit an enquiry