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Find out your answers to questions about BRAIN UK, a human tissue bank for disorders affecting the brain and neuromuscular system.

How long does the BRAIN UK application process take?

BRAIN UK approvals usually take around two weeks (from receipt of the completed application form) but this is dependent on the application and whether it needs to be updated following review. Tissue retrieval can typically take 3 months, but may take longer depending on the nature of your request.

How does the application process work?

For full details of the application process, please see Apply: Study Stages.

Is there a charge for applying to BRAIN UK?

BRAIN UK does not currently charge for the processing of applications to access human tissue from neuropathology archives, however, there are usually costs incurred for the retrieval, processing and transportation of tissue charged by the Participating Centre. These costs are to be met by the investigator’s grant fund.

How much do tissue samples cost?

The UK Brain Banks Network has provided pricing guidelines (which includes suggested costs for administration and transportation as well as for the samples themselves) which can be found on the UK Brain Banks Network website. Please note that pricing structure can differ across centres, as many Neuropathology Centres that take part in BRAIN UK are not part of this network, so this information should be used as a guide only.

Which neuropathology centres are involved with BRAIN UK?

There are currently more than 20 NHS Neuropathology centres participating from across the UK. For information on each of the Participating Centres please see About Us: Collaborating Centres.

What is the format of the tissue; is there any frozen tissue available?

Most of the tissue is FFPE but it may be possible to obtain frozen too, if this is justified by the research proposal. If frozen tissue is required please make an enquiry with us before submitting an application.

Does BRAIN UK cover anything other than brain tissue?

Yes.  BRAIN UK includes all human tissues/materials derived from diagnostic Neuropathology practice which are mainly from the following anatomical regions: brain, spinal cord, meninges, skull, spine, associated soft tissues, peripheral nerve and muscle. Less frequently sampled structures include the eye and related structures, skin and other organs/tissues in relation to neurological disease.  This covers a wide range of disorders such as inflammation and degeneration (including rare neurodegenerative conditions), demyelination, psychiatric, cerebrovascular, epilepsy, genetic, trauma including head injury, tumour and control tissue.  For examples of the types of research we have supported please see Studies Supported.

I would like some clinical information relating to the samples I have requested, can I access this data?

This is may be possible. If corresponding data is required, the exact information needed must be included in the application form.  Once approved, arrangements can be made for a health professional to access the data so that it can be provided to the researcher in a link-anonymised format.  Please be aware that it is likely that additional costs will be incurred from the centre for this service and/or a formal collaboration may be required.

I am a researcher working outside of the UK, can I apply?

Yes. BRAIN UK will permit the release of archived human tissue to bona fide Universities and health care institutions situated overseas. To date, we have approved applications from mainland Europe, the US and Canada.

The criteria to be applied to determine the validity and merit of such applications by the BRAIN UK Director will be the same as those for any other applicant. Overseas applicants will have to sign up to the standard terms and conditions, as part of the completion of the Tissue Request Form, which cover storage, use, disposal and/or return of unused tissue in accordance with the Human Tissue Authority Codes of Practice. Overseas researchers will have to confirm that they satisfy the legal and ethical requirements of their own countries and BRAIN UK will need to be satisfied that these are broadly comparable to those of the UK. As custodians of their own neuropathology archives, each Participating Centre will have the ultimate veto regarding access to and use of their tissue repositories.


How do I donate my brain tissue for research?

BRAIN UK supports researchers to  use tissue already stored in diagnostic archives and is not involved in the process of donation.  If you wish to donate your whole brain after death (and any associated relevant tissues), your first point of contact should be your clinical care team.  In addition, your local bereavement centre or service may be able to help you with this.

If you would like further information about brain donation, the following websites provide advice/guidance about the process:

HTA (Human Tissue Authority) website:

UK Brain Banks Network website: 

If you would like some information about the research that UK patients have supported, through BRAIN UK, please see our Lay Summary pages.

How do I acknowledge BRAIN UK?

It is suggested to acknowledge BRAIN UK and each NHS Trust that provided tissue in any publication arising from its use, with the suggested wording:

‘Tissue samples were obtained from [name(s) of NHS Trust(s)] as part of BRAIN UK, which is funded by the Medical Research Council and Brain Tumour Research.’

A copy of our logo can be found using the links below:

BRAIN UK logo.png

BRAIN UK logo.jpeg

If you would like any further information about the acknowledgement of BRAIN UK and supplying NHS Trusts or require the logo in a different format to those supplied, please contact us.

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