The Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (HBTRC) was established at McLean Hospital to provide a centralized resource for the collection and distribution of human brain specimens for brain research. Recently, Cohen Veterans Bioscience initiated a partnership with the HBTRC to create a “Special Collection” for tissue from individuals with history of either post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. Access to high quality tissue samples in these diseases will propel research of these diseases forward. For example, 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 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 conduct research into 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 HBTRC for their investigations. Since the majority of these studies can be conducted using 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. To support investigations on brain disorders, the HBTRC collects brains and other tissues (meninges, cerebrospinal fluid, spinal cord, blood) from individuals with and without neurological and psychiatric disorders. Clinical, demographic and detailed neuropathological information is also compiled for each individual in order to aid in the interpretations of these studies.
With Cohen Veterans Bioscience funding, all disbursements from the HBTRC are made at no cost to the recipient laboratory.