Brains for Dementia Research

Brains for Dementia Research (BDR) is a unique initiative that aims to provide researchers with high-quality brain tissue to support their vital work.

What is Brains for Dementia Research?

Brains for Dementia Research (BDR) is an initiative where participants pledge to donate their brain after they die. 

Over 3,300 generous volunteers have enrolled to help advance dementia research.

There are five BDR 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 Newcastle University.

Why is Brains for Dementia Research important?

Dementia can be difficult to study in people so researchers model the effects of the condition in cells as well as in animals. These models are vital for understanding how dementia affects the brain and how we might be able to stop it.

Alongside these vital models it's important  that researchers can study dementia in human tissue so they can be sure what they have seen in animal and cells models is also true in people who have lived with dementia. That's why Brains for Dementia Research is so important.

‘An advantage of BDR is that we can obtain samples from different banks and we know that the quality will be consistent.’ 
- Dr José Brás, senior researcher at UCL’s Institute of Neurology

BDR provides researchers with tissue as well as the clinical information about the donor including details about their memory and thinking skills over time, as well as comorbidities and genetic information. This will help researchers to understand how signs of disease in the brain could be linked to a person’s symptoms. 

The researchers at BDR ensure that the tissue is of the highest quality, meaning that researchers can use it with confidence in their studies.

'I’d like to donate my brain to support dementia research.'

The response to BDR has been fantastic, with many generous volunteers pledging to donate their brains. We are not currently enrolling new volunteers. 

If you are interested in registering to donate your brain tissue or that of a relative or partner, contact your nearest brain bank via the Medical Research Council.

'I’m a researcher and would like to request brain tissue.'

Over the last decade BDR has become the gold-standard for brain tissue banking. BDR has a special fast-track system in place for UK researchers which aims to approve tissue requests within a week and will courier frozen or paraffin embedded tissue straight to your lab.
Donors keep in touch during their lives and their medical notes are diligently updated. Researchers are supplied with information on comorbidities, in-life diagnosis and genetic information.

Information for researchers

Find information about Brains for Dementia Research and how researchers can access tissue or data from the project.

How to apply

How is Brains for Dementia Research funded?

Brains for Dementia Research is funded in a partnership by Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, in association with the Medical Research Council.

Alzheimer's Society supports the costs of staff working in the brain banks who carry out BDR assessments, and for equipment and consumables needed to carry out the project. We also have a role the governance of the initiative.

Keep up to date with Alzheimer's Society research news

Find out about the latest grant rounds and news in our quarterly update for researchers.

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