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The Douglas-Bell Canada Brain Bank: supporting human brain research in Canada and beyond

Principal Investigator:
  • Gustavo Turecki, Douglas Hospital Research Centre
Team Members:
  • Naguib Mechawar, Douglas Mental Health University Institute
  • Douglas Hospital Research Centre
  • Réseau Québécois sur le Suicide, les Troubles de L’humeur, et les Troubles Associés

Project Overview

The Douglas-Bell Canada Brain Bank (DBCBB;, based at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute (McGill University affiliate), has become one of the most important brain banks in the world. Founded in 1980 and currently in its 40th year of operation, the DBCBB currently houses and manages over 3,600 brains, as well as a large relational database containing demographic, clinical and developmental histories from the donors. The DBCBB is one of the rare brain banks in North America to collect brains from people who suffered from different neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other dementias, as well as diverse mental disorders, including schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, substance use disorders, obtained from individuals who did or did not die by suicide (special collaboration with the Coroner’s office). The DBCBB is internationally recognized, and thus receives tissue requests from a large number of neuroscientists from Canada and abroad. Requests for tissues come from leading international laboratories focusing on neurobiological processes as diverse as the normal expression of brain genes, histological changes associated with brain aneurysms, epigenetics processes associated with chronic cocaine use, and the neurobiological consequences of early-life adversity, to name just a few. More than 1,000 brain samples are prepared and sent to 30-50 researchers each year (only 15 associated members are listed due to sizing constraints). Samples obtained from the DBCBB have been essential to several scientific breakthroughs reported in studies published in high-impact journals.