News abstract

Nature Medicine 15, 834 - 835 (2009)

Straight talk with...James Ironside

Would you entrust your brain to a bank? Well, many people do after they die, and such brain banks—often funded by government agencies or disease charities—are essential for neuroscience research. They collect and store the healthy and diseased brain specimens that neuroscientists need to explore neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and autism.
Each brain bank typically has a limited supply of samples and tends to operate fairly independently. This means that researchers often have to trawl through numerous brain banks to find their desired specimens. Furthermore, there is a general shortage of brain samples.
To help resolve these issues in the UK, James Ironside, professor of clinical neuropathology at the University of Edinburgh, was appointed in June as the director of the new UK Brain Banks Network. An expert in human prion diseases, particularly Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), Ironside knows all about brain banks. He established the Brain and Tissue Bank at the UK's National CJD Surveillance Unit and is involved in the Sudden Death Brain and Tissue Bank at the University of Edinburgh. Jon Evans recently caught up with Ironside to discuss his new leadership position and how the brain network will benefit neuroscience research.