A contribution to research that continues even beyond life

Brain donation is vital to science

The study of brain tissue, provided through brain donation, is a major component of research into Alzheimer’s disease and brain aging. It opens the door to crucial knowledge, such as how “markers” of the disease measured in living persons express themselves in the brain, and how drugs tested in clinical trials actually affect brain pathology. Brain donation from older adults with normal memory and thinking helps science better understand the physiology of lifelong brain health.

…and important to families

For a family, brain donation permits a definitive neuropathological diagnosis beyond “AD probable,” “MCI,” or other assessment made through clinical observation and other testing while their loved one was alive. This is often a comfort to families, and can also contribute important information to a family medical history.

Especially needed: brain donation from normal controls

brain-hold-puzzle.600.421.sDid you know that answers to many of science’s questions about Alzheimer’s disease will likely be found in older adults without major cognitive problems?

That’s right. Studying individuals who remain cognitively well into their 70s, 80s, and beyond, helps science better identify exactly what goes wrong, and when, in the brains of persons who develop Alzheimer’s, MCI, or other age-related cognitive disorders. These healthy individuals in research are known as “normal controls.” Brain tissue from normal controls is a most precious resource in science’s battle against Alzheimer’s disease and is especially needed.

Key to brain donation: a supportive family

brain-donation-sisters-copy.479.337.sSince an individual must die to become a candidate for brain donation, he or she cannot personally insure this wish will be carried out. Surviving family members are critical to making brain donation a reality.

If you wish to be a brain donor, please talk with your family about your decision, and talk with us about how you can provide your next-of-kin the necessary information to act on your intention.

Contact Marianne Watson, RN, Penn Memory Center Brain Donation Coordinator at 215-662-4373 or marianne.watson@uphs.upenn.edu to learn more.