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Human Brain Collection Core

Distribution of Resources

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) promotes the sharing of resources and data as a way to speed the translation of findings into knowledge, and endorse projects and procedures that improve health, while protecting the privacy of research participants.

The Human Brain Collection Core (HBCC) collects postmortem human brain tissue specimens that have been extensively characterized in clinical, toxicological, molecular biological, genetic and neuropathological domains.  This collection of more than a thousand individuals with and without major psychiatric disorders and tens of thousands of biospecimens, including blood, tissue, RNA and DNA samples, is an extraordinarily valuable resource that is made accessible to investigators within and outside the NIH to hasten the pathophysiological and etiological understanding of neuropsychiatric illness.

Currently, the HBCC resources include brain tissues (varying brain regions and amounts available) from individuals with the following diagnoses:

Attention Deficit Disorder 9
Anxiety disorder 8
Bipolar disorder 135
Controls non-psychiatric 311
Depressive disorder (not otherwise specified) 29
Eating disorder 3
HIV positive 3
Obsessive compulsive disorder 10
Mental disorder (not otherwise specified) 2
Psychosis (not otherwise specified) 3
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 4
Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder 193
Substance intoxication 6
Substance use disorder 23**
Tics 3
Williams syndrome 1
Major depressive disorder (MDD) 217
Alzheimer’s disease 5
Parkinson's disease 7
Lewy Body disease 2
Stroke 3
Contusions 4
Arteriovenous malformation 1
Traumatic brain injury/seizure 3
Diffuse polyglucosan bodies disease 2
Seizures 1
Brainstem vasculitis 1
Huntington’s disease 1

** multiple substances, including cocaine, heroin, opiates

Other resources include:

  • cDNA libraries constructed from dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and subgenual cingulate cortex (sgACC), and dura from hundreds of subjects with mental disorders and controls
  • microarray data (publicly available at dbGAP accession ID: phs000979.v1.p1) from DLPFC, hippocampus and dura,
  • frozen sections (14 um thick) mounted on slides (DLPFC from 32 patients with schizophrenia and 63 controls),
  • formalin-fixed coronal slices (approximately 15 mm thick) of a single hemisphere from 15 controls, 10 patients with schizophrenia, 5 with major depression, 4 with bipolar disorder.

As a non-renewable resource, the human brain collection requires oversight and evaluation to ensure that specimens are distributed equitably and fairly to investigators.  Requests for access to samples from the collection should be emailed to hbccmail@mail.nih.gov. Requests are reviewed for consistency with NIMH and HBCC mission and goals by an oversight committee.  Requestor’s objectives will be evaluated for viability and practicality given the limited materials available. Committee members will review the requests and reply to the requestor with their recommendations and comments within 14 working days.

NIH investigators whose request has been approved will complete the Human Tissue Distribution Agreement form; investigators outside NIH will complete the Material Transfer Agreement (MTA).