The Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center has been established at McLean Hospital as a centralized resource for the collection and distribution of human brain specimens for brain research. Research over the past decade has shown that the study of human brain tissue is essential to increasing our understanding of how the nervous system functions. Most recently, postmortem human brain research has played a significant role in the development of a genetic test for Huntington’s disease as well as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Similarly, neurochemical and anatomical studies focusing on the biological nature of the severe mental illnesses are now emerging and bringing forth new hope for understanding the underlying brain mechanisms responsible for psychosis and other symptoms associated with these debilitating brain disorders. In order to perform research into the neurological or psychiatric disorders, it is vital to collect normal control tissue as well.
Scientists from the nation’s top research and medical centers request tissue from The Brain Bank for their investigations. Since the majority of these studies can be carried out on a very small amount of tissue, each donated brain provides a large number of samples for many researchers. However, in order to conduct valid experiments, it is necessary to supply researchers with a variety of brain specimens.