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NSW brain bank researcher
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Information for researchers

Supporting brain research both nationally and internationally
We're dedicated to providing the highest quality human postmortem brain tissue to researchers who are working towards discovering the causes and consequences of different brain disorders.

Requesting tissue

The NSW Brain Tissue Resource Centre (NSW BTRC) is a member of the NSW Brain Banks, which oversees the application process for all enquiries including tissue requests, letters of support for grant application, or tissue access for trial/pilot studies.

The New South Wales Brain Bank Scientific Review Committee or the National Institutes of Health (NIAAA) Scientific Advisory Board will review tissue requests. Samples will be made available based on the validity of the research project and tissue availability.

  • The NSW BTRC processes formalin-fixed and fresh-frozen brain and spinal cord tissue for research projects. Samples will be made available based on the validity of the research project and tissue availability.
  • Our centre has ethics approval from the University of Sydney. Host institution ethics approval is required from research groups when requesting tissue.
  • The NSW BTRC operates inline with the Australian brain banks national access policy. A service fee for access is determined for each application and freight charges are the responsibility of the recipient.
  • A tissue transfer agreement must be completed following the approval and before the samples are transported.
  • The NSW BTRC is supported by the US Government under the National Institutes of Health (NIAAA012725-15).
  • In addition to basic demographic data, the NSWBTRC has collated a wide variety of clinical data points available for researchers to utilise, including psychosocial histories, family histories and substance use. Please contact us if you are interested.
  • If you have used NSWBTRC tissue in a project, please use the following statement to acknowledge the NSWBTRC “Tissues were received from the New South Wales Brain Tissue Resource Centre at the University of Sydney which is supported by the University of Sydney. Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number NIAAA012725-15 The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
  • The NSWBTRC can potentially provide some fee-for-service tissue processing (eg. DNA/RNA isolation, IHC). If you are interested, please include this in your enquiry.

Research areas

The tissues provided by the NSW Brain Tissue Resource Centre to the neuroscientific research community have contributed to understanding the framework, composition and functioning of the human brain and the nature of neurological and neurodegenerative diseases.

The NSW Brain Tissue Resource Centre has users of tissue both nationally and internationally. Some of the major research areas that utilise our collections include:

  • Professor Adron Harris leads of large research group at the Waggoner Center for Alcohol & Addiction Research at The University of Texas at Austin. They are investigating the molecular actions of drugs of abuse on brain signaling systems and the genetics of alcohol susceptibility. Along with his associates Dayne Mayfield and Igor Ponomarev are applying new genomic tools for profiling alcohol use disorders.
  • Professor Fulton Crews, the director of the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies heads a dynamic group investigating how the impact of chronic drinking induces structural and functional changes associated with binge drinking. Recent studies have suggested that neuroinflammation may contribute to degeneration and loss of neurogenesis during binge drinking. They have also found that heavy alcohol use damages cortical brain regions associated with impulse control and planning capabilities.
  • Professor Georgy Bakalkin’s group at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University are researching the endogenous opioid system (EOS) that has been strongly implicated in the positive and negative reinforcing effects of alcohol.
  • Dr Greg Sutherland from The University of Sydney, in collaboration with Professor Jillian Kril, is investigating neurogenesis in the alcoholic brain. Evidence from rodents suggests that chronic alcohol consumption impairs brain neurogenesis, but it is unclear whether this is the case in humans, or indeed whether significant neurogenesis occurs in older adult brains.
  • Dr Kelly Newell is based at The University of Wollongong. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and depression as well as identify and investigate the potential of novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Dr Newell's research aims to understand Dr Newell has a strong interest in the glutamatergic system and its relevance to psychiatric illness and the implication of the metabotropic glutamate system in particular, in both the pathology and treatment of psychiatric illness.
  • Professor Kril is a chief investigator in a program of research led by Professor Glenda Halliday on the pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and motor neurodegenerative syndromes, investigating the associated proteinopathies and clinicopathological correlations. The ultimate goal of this research program is to develop a platform for therapeutic intervention with disease-modifying therapies. This requires an understanding of the pathogenesis of the protein abnormalities to be treated, as well as the ability to clinically identify the patients with the various proteinopathies.
  • de la Monte, S.M., et al., Imaging mass spectrometry of frontal white matter lipid changes in human alcoholics. Alcohol, 2018. 67: p. 51-63.
  • Coleman, L.G., Jr., et al., HMGB1/IL-1beta complexes regulate neuroimmune responses in alcoholism. Brain Behav Immun, 2018. 72: p. 61-77.
  • Crews, F.T., et al., Toll-like receptor signaling and stages of addiction. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 2017. 234(9-10): p. 1483-1498.
  • Bazov, I., et al., Neuronal Expression of Opioid Gene is Controlled by Dual Epigenetic and Transcriptional Mechanism in Human Brain. Cereb Cortex, 2018. 28(9): p. 3129-3142.
  • Kononenko, O., et al., Opioid precursor protein isoform is targeted to the cell nuclei in the human brain. Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj, 2017. 1861(2): p. 246-255.
  • O'Rourke, M.B., et al., Optimal Preparation of Formalin Fixed Samples for Peptide Based Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometry Imaging Workflows. J Vis Exp, 2018(131).
  • Lum, J.S., et al., A postmortem analysis of NMDA ionotropic and group 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors in the nucleus accumbens in schizophrenia. J Psychiatry Neurosci, 2018. 43(2): p. 102-110.
  • Couttas, T.A., et al., Age-Dependent Changes to Sphingolipid Balance in the Human Hippocampus are Gender-Specific and May Sensitize to Neurodegeneration. J Alzheimers Dis, 2018. 63(2): p. 503-514.
  • Lee, M.R., et al., Effect of alcohol use disorder on oxytocin peptide and receptor mRNA expression in human brain: A post-mortem case-control study. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2017. 85: p. 14-19.
  • Matosin, N., et al., Effects of common GRM5 genetic variants on cognition, hippocampal volume and mGluR5 protein levels in schizophrenia. Brain Imaging Behav, 2018. 12(2): p. 509-517.
  • Gatta, E., et al., Emerging Role of One-Carbon Metabolism and DNA Methylation Enrichment on delta-Containing GABAA Receptor Expression in the Cerebellum of Subjects with Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD). Int J Neuropsychopharmacol, 2017. 20(12): p. 1013-1026.
  • Mathews, K.J., et al., Evidence for reduced neurogenesis in the aging human hippocampus despite stable stem cell markers. Aging Cell, 2017. 16(5): p. 1195-1199.
  • Frohlich, D., et al., Expression Pattern of the Aspartyl-tRNA Synthetase DARS in the Human Brain. Front Mol Neurosci, 2018. 11: p. 81.
  • Vetreno, R.P., et al., Persistent Adult Neuroimmune Activation and Loss of Hippocampal Neurogenesis Following Adolescent Ethanol Exposure: Blockade by Exercise and the Anti-inflammatory Drug Indomethacin. Front Neurosci, 2018. 12: p. 200.
  • Sutherland, G.T., et al., Epidemiological Approaches to Understanding the Link Between Type 2 Diabetes and Dementia. J Alzheimers Dis, 2017. 59(2): p. 393-403.