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MRC London Neurodegenerative Diseases Brain Bank

The Brain Bank was established in 1989 with the aim of providing high quality, clinically and neuropathologically well-characterised human brain and spinal cord tissue to the neuroscience community. The Brain Bank is partially funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and is part of the Basic and Clinical Neuroscience department at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) and the Department of Clinical Neuropathology at King’s College Hospital.


Image shows Tau pathology within the hippocampus (identified by the AT8 antibody against PHF Tau).


Brain Bank Team
Prof Safa Al-Sarraj   Director of Brain Bank and Head of Clinical Neuropathology department.
Dr Istvan Bodi     Consultant Neuropathologist
Dr Andrew King    Consultant Neuropathologist
Dr Miren Aizpurua    M.D Neuropath SpR
Dr Claire Troakes   Brain Bank Coordinator
Sashika Selvackadunco  Brain Bank Research Worker
Diana Marques Dias Research Technician for Brains for Dementia Research
Dr Teresa Rodriguez  Brain Bank Research Worker (maternity cover)


Objectives for the MRC Brainbank

Facilitate brain donation through an ethically approved programme of informed consent for cohort studies and ad-hoc donations.

Provide pathological diagnosis to the relatives of brain donors according to the best national and international protocols.

Dissemination of high quality brain tissue to neuroscience research.

Maintain an ’open door’ policy for responding to requests without prejudice.

Ensure optimum donor care and retain contact with donor families, informing them about diagnosis and progress in research.

Disseminate and promote knowledge of brain banking through scientific meetings, public engagements and newsletters.

Provide teaching, training information and educational resources for neuroscientists.

Facilitate collaboration between basic research scientists, pathologists and clinicians.

Maintain gold standards of excellence in brain banking for the archiving and storage of frozen and formalin fixed tissue.

Participate in ethical training and consultation and implement the most recent ethical guidelines for donor recruitment through informed consent.

Neuroscience Research

Clinically and neuropathologically well characterised brain tissue is one of the most important resources for neurodegeneration research. It is especially valuable since for many psychiatric and neurological disorders there are, as yet, no suitable animal models. The Brain Bank focuses on neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Frontotemperal dementias (FTD) and Motor Neurone Disease (MND) but we also hold a number of other disease collections including various movement disorders, HIV, Autism and Schizophrenia (see poster for examples of holdings). We also provide control brain and spinal cord tissue for comparative purposes and for basic neuroscience research. All information on tissue availability is stored on an easily accessible and frequently updated database.Standardised dissection protocols are followed and material is available for research in frozen and/or formalin-fixed form.

Poster: MRC London Brain Bank: a resource for neurodegeneration research

Requests for Tissue

The Brain Bank endeavours to provide suitable material to bona fide research groups, both at the local, national and international level. In order to consider a request, the Brain Bank requires details of the nature of the project for which tissue is to be used.

From 1st January 2016, and in line with a sustainable future for brain banking, The Medical Research Council (MRC) and associated charities have introduced a cost recovery scheme for the provision of tissue. The tariff will partially subsidise the costs of retrieval, assessment and archiving of the brain tissue.  The MRC will continue to contribute substantially to the remaining costs for the foreseeable future.

If you are intending to use human tissue in future projects please remember to include these costs in any upcoming grant applications.  Exceptions may be made for pilot studies and if yours falls into this category that should be noted in your application to the tissue bank.

For further information and consultation on tariffs please contact the brain bank by e-mail  or phone on 020 7848 0290.

Tissue Request form

Make a Donation

There is a real need for brain donation in order to carry out vital research for a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders. For comparative purposes, there is an equally great need for brain tissue donated from healthy individuals who do not have a neurological or psychiatric condition (known as control tissue). All donations are gratefully received. Donor details are held in confidence and the Brain Bank operates under the regulation of the Human Tissue Authority. A donor information pack is available on request.

Making a brain donation for scientific research - Frequently Asked Questions

Public Engagement

One of the main objectives of the Brain Bank is to disseminate and promote knowledge of brain banking and brain research through public engagement. The Brain Bank has been present in several initiatives, some of these include:

  • Brain Awareness Week. An international celebration of the brain for people of all ages, disseminating information about brain anatomy, functions, medical conditions and brain research. See Dr Claire Troakes (Brain Bank coordinator) in this video.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Open Day , celebrated annually at the IoPPN. The Open Day brings together researchers, patients and carers to offer a unique insight into the disease.
  • Pint of Science brings scientists to local venues to engage the general public in an informal and approachable manner.
Brains for Dementia Research

The London Neurodegenerative Diseases Brain Bank is also part of a new initative - Brains for Dementia Research. Brain tissue from regularly assessed individuals provides the very best resource for scientists working on understanding dementia. Linking progression of memory impairment with what is seen in the brain itself and comparing with normal brain tissue is essential to developing more effective treatments.

Brains for Dementia Research is a network between 6 centres (based in London, Oxford, Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester and Cardiff universities) funded jointly by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust and Alzheimer’s Society. It invites people diagnosed with a memory impairment (or dementia), and those who do not have a memory impairment (normal controls) to participate in monitoring of memory, thinking and behavior every one to two years prior to brain donation.

If you are interested in finding out more please call the BDR coordinating centre on 020 7848 8377, email , or visit
MRC UK Brain Banks Network

The brain bank is also part of the newly created MRC UK Brain Banks Network. The UK Brain Banks Network will provide high quality brain tissue to scientists and clinicians to carry out cutting edge neurosciences research, and will support major initiatives on research into neurological disorders, including the aims of the Ministerial Action Group on Dementia Research.

Contact Us

For further information please contact the brain bank on 020 7848 0290, or at PO65, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF.

To contact us urgently regarding a donation please call 020 7848 0290 during office hours (9-5 Monday-Friday) and 020 7848 0002 outside normal working hours (ask for brain bank staff to be paged).

In case of problems contacting us please continue to make usual arrangements. Email or call 020 7848 8377



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