Michelle Freund, Ph.D.
Office of Technology Development and Coordination
The NIH-funded NeuroBioBank (NBB) was established in September 2013 as a national resource for investigators utilizing human post-mortem brain tissue and related biospecimens for their research to understand conditions of the nervous system. We seek to begin a recompetition for fiscal year 2019 to continue this largely successful program. The envisioned NBB 2.0 would benefit from lessons learned in the first iteration and would aim to increase the number of brains collected and distributed.
Prior to 2013, post-mortem human brain collections were primarily supported through grants to individual principal investigators. The NIH Blueprint initiated a working group in 2011 to assess the NIH investment in brain banks and to propose alternative solutions. Following significant interaction with the brain banking community and neuroscientists that utilize post-mortem tissue for their studies, a recommendation was made to consolidate efforts into a centralized resource. The resultant program, the NIH NBB was ultimately established through the solicitation of requests for proposals to be administered through a contract mechanism. The major goals were to provide greater access to well-characterized human brain tissue from a diverse pool of donors to study brain disorders. This program has been funded for the past five years by NIMH, NINDS and NICHD and provides tissues from individuals with a multitude of neurological, neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as control specimens. Each contracted brain and tissue repository endeavors to increase public awareness about the value of tissue donation for understanding brain disorders. The NIH NBB has established a centralized resource of best practices and coordinated standards for tissue acquisition, preparation, neuropathology, toxicology assessment and distribution.
The current NBB network consists of six sites: The University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank, University of Maryland Brain and Tissue Bank, The Human Brain and Spinal Fluid Resource Center (UCLA/VA), Mt. Sinai Brain Bank, Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center and the Brain Tissue Donation Program at the University of Pittsburgh. The NBB also represents the inventories of two affiliated sites: The Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and the NIMH Human Brain Collection Core.
We seek to reissue a request for proposals in fiscal year 2019. Although 5 of 6 current NBB sites have remaining option years on their contract, the University of Maryland contract will expire August 31, 2019. Our intent is to bring all sites into the same funding cycle and use this opportunity to make some adjustments that would enhance efforts and result in cost savings.