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The Bank: A Unique and Vital Resource to Strengthen Brain Research

Research stories January 01, 2021
Dr. Gustavo Turecki

Dr. Gustavo Turecki is the co-Director of the Douglas – Bell Canada Brain Bank based at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute. The Brain Bank, the recipient of a 2014 Platform Support Grant, is one of the few brain repositories in the world that actively recruits, preserves, and distributes brains from individuals with mental illness or neurodegenerative diseases. The Brain Bank houses and manages over 3,000 brains, as well as a large database containing demographic, clinical, and developmental histories from the donors. Access to healthy and diseased tissue is essential for understanding the physiological and pathological processes underlying disorders affecting the brain.

This internationally recognized brain bank receives tissue requests from a large number of neuroscientists both in Canada and around the world. Requests for tissues have 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 researchers each year.

The Brain Bank is a unique and vital resource to strengthen brain research in Canada and around the world. Samples obtained from the Douglas - Bell Canada Brain Bank have been essential to several scientific breakthroughs reported in studies published in high-impact journals.