Concept and objective
The Netherlands Brain Bank (NBB) is a non-profit organization that collects human brain tissue of donors with a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders, but also of non-diseased donors. This brain tissue, together with an anonymized summary of a donor’s medical record, is sent to scientific researchers worldwide, with the ultimate aim of increasing our understanding of the human brain and to develop therapies for neurological and psychiatric diseases.
The NBB has an extensive donor program for brains both with and without brain disease. Currently, more than 2750 living donors with a variety of disorders are registered at the NBB. Due to the 24/7 availability of the NBB and VUmc staff, combined with the fact that the Netherlands is a small country, rapid autopsies with short post-mortem delays of three to ten hours are possible. The tissue is dissected at autopsy and processed according to the diagnosis and to the preferences of the researchers who requested it.
Since 1985 the NBB has performed over 3500 brain autopsies. The following figure provides an overview of the number of autopsies specified by diagnosis.
The Netherlands Psychiatric Tissue Program
This year, the NBB received a grant of 3.45 M€ of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). With this grant the NBB, in collaboration with 5 Dutch university medical centres, will build a national infrastructure to obtain brain tissue of well-diagnosed patients with psychiatric disorders. This tissue resource will bring about a breakthrough in the international research on the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders.