Brains for Dementia Research

What is Brains for Dementia Research?

Brains for Dementia Research aims to provide researchers with high-quality brain tissue that also has a record of the donor’s abilities in memory and thinking over time.  The initiative is funded in a partnership between Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, in association with the Medical Research Council.

The Brains for Dementia Research programme involves six universities located across the UK. Over 3000 generous volunteers have enrolled as BDR participants and pledged to donate their brain after they pass away. The volunteers then receive thinking and memory tests (usually every one to five years) after they sign up. This ensures that researchers also receive clinical information about the donor, which will help them to understand how signs of disease in the brain could be linked to a person’s symptoms.

Where are the brain banks located?

There are five Brains for Dementia Research brain banks located in Newcastle, Manchester, London, Oxford and Bristol, and a further research centre in Cardiff. The main co-ordinating centre is based at King’s College London.

Can I donate my brain using Brains for Dementia Research?

The response to Brains for Dementia Research has been excellent, with many generous volunteers signing up to donate their brains. This means that we are no longer enrolling new volunteers as BDR participants.

If you are interested in registering as a brain donor, please contact your local brain bank. The contact information is on the MRC website.

How is Alzheimer’s Society involved in Brains for Dementia Research?

Alzheimer’s Society funds Brains for Dementia Research, alongside Alzheimer’s Research UK. We pay for the costs of staff who work in the brain banks and do BDR assessments, and for equipment and consumables needed to carry out the project. We also have a role the governance of the initiative.

The researchers at Brains for Dementia Research ensure that the tissue is of the highest quality, meaning that researchers can use it with confidence in their studies. A large part of our work is helping other researchers to be aware of the initiative and access this tissue. 

Has Brains for Dementia Research contributed towards published results?

Brains for Dementia Research has been acknowledged in over 100 publications since 2008.

I’m a researcher who needs access to brain tissue – how do I request it?

You can find out more on the Brains for Dementia Research website: http://www.brainsfordementiaresearch.org.uk/

The FAQs section explains how to request tissue: http://brainsfordementiaresearch.co.uk/information-for-researchers/research-faqs/