Diseases of the brain are increasingly common in the UK due to an ageing population suffering from conditions such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. There are no known cures for many of these diseases, so high priority is given to research.
Scientists study human tissue to improve their understanding of how diseases start and progress, and what keeps us healthy. Research such as this often leads to different ways of diagnosing disease and can help develop new treatments.
To ensure research is thorough, it is also extremely important to have access to brain tissue from deceased people who did not have diseases. This is known as control tissue and it is crucial that scientists have access to this so that they can compare it directly with tissue from a person with a disease. These valuable donations are essential for developing new and better treatments for people with diseases and in the search for a cure.
Brain donation has helped with the discovery and treatment of diseases such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
The role of the HTA in brain donation
The HTA licenses organisations that store human tissue, including brains, for research. We believe that good regulation supports good science, which in turn improves healthcare. The HTA ensures that tissue is removed and stored in an appropriate and well-managed way. Our regulation ensures that the public and researchers can have confidence that the wishes of individual patients and their families are respected. Medical research needs the best quality tissue to work on, and the HTA's regulation helps ensure it is stored to high standards.
Please note that there is not an out-of-hours telephone service for brain donation enquiries. Please leave a message on our answer machine.
How to donate your brain for research
The following human tissue banks accept brain and spinal tissue for research. As well as needing particular types of tissue from people with the conditions named below, they also accept donations of brain and spinal tissue from people without these conditions as controls to the research.
You can also download a body and brain donation information pack (PDF), which is a printable version of the information contained on this site.
Contact details for brain banks
Dept of Neuropathology
University of Wales
College of Medicine
Contact: Dr GA Lammie
T 02920 742018
F 02920 742701
The Department of Neuropathology coordinates brain donation in Wales. If you would like to make a brain donation for medical research please use the contact details above.
Brains for Dementia Research Co-ordinating Centre
Wolfson Centre for Age Related Diseases
King's College London
St Thomas' Street
London SE1 1UL