Australian Sports Brain Bank

Researching the long term effects of head impacts in sports
The Australian Sports Brain Bank is an international collaboration aiming to better understand the effects of regular concussions in Australian sportspeople, and to contribute to world class research.

What is the Australian Sports Brain Bank?

The Australian Sports Brain Bank is headed by RPA Head of Neuropathology Professor Michael Buckland and located at the Brain and Mind Centre. The Australian Sports Brain Bank was established in 2018 by the Neuropathology department at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, in partnership with the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney, and the Concussion Legacy Foundation in the USA. 

Research focus

Our researchers are looking into understanding the full impact of sports-related concussion on the human nervous system. We would like to understand the impact of genetic factors, as well as environmental risk factors. In particular we hope to understand the importance of age at first concussion, and the role of the length of playing career. We hope our research will lead to tests to diagnose Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated blows to the head, including concussions, and ultimately effective treatments.

What is CTE?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a seemingly rare brain condition associated with repeated blows to the head. It was first found in boxers more than 100 years ago and was originally called punch-drunk syndrome. It has since been described in American footballers and other sportspeople overseas, however the incidence of CTE in Australian sports is currently unknown. CTE is a lesser known form of brain disease which can occur at any age, and in most cases the first symptoms occur years or decades after brain injury. In younger people, it often presents with behavioural and/or mood disturbances such as depression, while symptom onset in older people may be indistinguishable from Alzheimer disease. 

Despite technical advances in medical imaging, the only way to definitively diagnose many types of brain disease is by examination of post-mortem tissue. 

Photo of Professor Ian Hickie, Dr Adrian Cohen, Peter FitzSimons, Dr Michael Buckland and Colin Scotts

Brains trust - Professor Ian Hickie, Dr Adrian Cohen, Peter FitzSimons, Dr Michael Buckland and Colin Scotts. Photo taken at the launch in 2018.

Global collaboration

The Australian Sports Brain Bank is an exclusive Australian collaborator with the Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) Global Brain Bank.

Members of Global Brain Bank commit to collaborative research, including using common study methods, common data elements, and sharing data to accelerate global understanding, prevention, and treatment of CTE and other consequences of head impacts in sport.

Pledges for brain donation can be made through the Australian Sports Brain Bank website. For more information about the Concussion Legacy Foundation Global Brain Bank, visit

Michael Buckland

Clinical Associate Professor
  • +61 2 9114 4020
  • Room 711 Brain and Mind Centre 94 Mallett St Camperdown NSW 2050 Mallett Street Campus M02F

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