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Investigator Resources > Brain Core

The Brain Core

A major contributor to the lack of progress in understanding TBI-associated neurodegenerative disease (TReND) is the limited number of suitable human brain tissue specimens available for research, with samples typically dispersed across multiple centers or collated in a manner that renders them largely inaccessible to the wider research community. By contrast, understanding of wider neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, has benefitted from coordinated and dedicated research brain banking initiatives directed to specific patient populations and linked to high quality clinical datasets. In fact, three such highly regarded neurodegenerative disease brain banks contribute to the CONNECT-TBI program initiative. However, while research brain banking in neurodegenerative disease has proven largely successful, access to brain tissue for research in many other neurological diseases is less well served. For this reason, broader scope, multi-center, collaborative brain bank networks have emerged to address the need for access to research tissues and brain banking in wider neurodegenerative disease, such as the highly successful NeuroBioBank, BrainNet Europe, MRC UK Brain Banks Network, and BRAIN-UK.

While these existing initiatives have demonstrated proof of principle in networking brain tissue archives for research access, they have acknowledged limitations in securing material from donors with a history of TBI. The activities of the CONNECT-TBI Brain Bank Core are designed to resolve these issues and, in so doing, create a central point of access to unrivalled research tissue resources that support global studies in TBI, including the research projects proposed under CONNECT-TBI. This will be achieved through collation of existing research tissue holdings in TBI across our network of nine leading research centers; bringing together comprehensive data on tissue holdings and clinical datasets, with nearly 2000 acute and approximately 850 chronic TBI cases under one research database. In parallel, CONNECT-TBI will facilitate coordinated research brain banking activities under harmonized protocols for the assessment and interrogation of autopsy material from patients exposed to TBI.

The CONNECT-TBI Brain Bank Core will serve as the coordinating and archiving center for these activities and act as the central histologic processing site to facilitate the multi-institutional neuropathologic study of postmortem central nervous system tissues from patients exposed to TBI, including Expert Consensus Group activities. To achieve this, the activities of the Brain Bank Core will integrate with those of the Administrative and Data Management Cores and the Research Projects within CONNECT-TBI to deliver the overarching aims of the project. To this end, the specific aims of the CONNECT-TBI Brain Bank Core are to:

  • Conduct a census of existing tissue holdings and clinical datasets in collaborating centers to populate a centralized database, generating the CONNECT-TBI research tissue archive.
  • Establish a multi-center, autopsy brain donation network with case accrual from former athletes across multiple global sports, long-term survivors of single mild, moderate or severe TBI, former military personnel exposed to blast and non-blast TBI, and multiple ongoing international prospective studies in TBI.
  • Establish a central TBI histology repository by collecting, staining and whole slide digital scanning sections from well characterized TBI cases.
  • Establish and refine best practice protocols for evaluation of cTBI neuropathologies, including CTE, to facilitate studies by CONNECT-TBI investigators and disseminate these to wider research and diagnostic communities.
  • Provide post-mortem TBI CNS samples to support Research Projects within CONNECT-TBI and external investigators approved by the Administrative Core.

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Tissue Repository Access

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