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Brain banking: opportunities, challenges and meaning for the future

Abstract

Brain banks collect post-mortem human brains to foster research into human CNS function and disease. They have been indispensable for uncovering the secrets of many diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. At a time when there are so many open questions in neuroscience and the incidence of brain diseases continues to increase in parallel with the aging of the population, brain banking remains at the heart of brain research. However, the major source of brain banks, the clinical autopsy, is rapidly falling into limbo. New strategies, including donor programmes, medico-legal autopsies and banking in networks, as well as fresh considerations of the ethics and public relations, are required.

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Figure 1: A world map of brain banks.
Figure 2: Brain banking and longitudinal studies of disease progression.
Figure 3: The worldwide declining autopsy rate.

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Acknowledgements

The existence of brain banks is dependent on the generosity of individuals and their relatives who are willing to donate tissues for research purposes. BrainNet Europe is supported by the European Community's Sixth Framework Programme (LSMH-CT-2004-503,039); BrainNet, a collaboration of German Brain banks, is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. This paper reflects only the author's views and the Community is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.

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Brain banks worldwide (PDF 301 kb)

A list of national and international brain bank networks and brain banks.

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DATABASES

OMIM

AD

ALS

frontotemporal lobar degeneration

Huntington's disease

PD

Pick's disease

progressive supranuclear palsy

FURTHER INFORMATION

Hans Kretzschmar's homepage

BrainNet

BrainNet europe

Allen institute for Brain science

the Bundesärztekammer

statistik Austria

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Kretzschmar, H. Brain banking: opportunities, challenges and meaning for the future. Nat Rev Neurosci 10, 70–78 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2535

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