Background and Guidance


The NIH-funded NeuroBioBank 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. With specimens that span neurological, neuropsychiatric, and neurodevelopmental diseases and disorders, the NeuroBioBank serves as a central point of access to the world-class collections of our six network sites (View map). In addition, the NeuroBioBank provides researchers with a wealth of resources to facilitate their research, including medical records and clinical data sets (when available) as well as access to quality metrics and SOPs used by each site.

Our sites adhere to the highest ethical standards when acquiring specimens for their collections, and protection of donor identity is assured. All brain tissue is procured, stored, and distributed according to applicable state and federal guidelines and regulations involving consent, protection of human subjects and donor anonymity.

All published scientific findings derived from tissues and/or data obtained through the NeuroBioBank must acknowledge the NIH NeuroBioBank as the source.

Tissue Requests

Tissue is made available to qualified researchers. Evidence must be presented to demonstrate resources are available to conduct the proposed research. First-time requestors will need to set up an online account. All requests for tissue must be submitted online. The available resources are also available for search, you may select specific cases in your tissue request if these meet your research criteria.

To process your request, you will need to complete a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). This is generated automatically with an ID number after you submit a tissue request. You will be asked to complete and upload a signed copy of the MTA and the researcher's CV before your request is reviewed - completing these steps sooner will ensure faster review. A template MTA document is available online.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) and Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH NeuroBioBank is a centralized repository used for the acquisition, receipt, storage and dissemination of human brains, related biospecimens, and associated clinical data. The goal of this project is to increase the availability of, and access to, high quality specimens for research in order to understand the neurological basis of disease. The legal authority to collect this information is granted under 42 U.S.C. Sections 232, 281 and 285g. The purpose of the information collection is to verify that the research scientist/institution applying to use the tissue is qualified to conduct human tissue research, maintain appropriate ethical standards and meet all legal obligations. Those who will have access to the information you provide may include the Directors of NIH-contracted Brain and Tissue Repositories, the NIH Contracting Officer's Representative, NIMH, NINDS and NICHD research and extramural staff and contractors working on our behalf. The information you provide is voluntary. However, if you choose not to provide the requested information, you will not be able to request access to tissues held in the NIH NeuroBioBank.

Requests for tissue are processed in the order they are received. When submitting a request for tissue online, please provide complete responses. Missing or incomplete information will delay the review of your request. If you are not sure precisely what tissue, tissue regions, or quantities are best for your research project, please submit a request for help to the NIH NeuroBioBank email address before completing the on-line request.

The diagnosis of disorders is based on information in clinical records obtained from treating physicians. As multiple brain banks curate and store these tissues, the bank may or may not have independently verified the diagnosis either clinically or through genetic testing.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions

I am applying for a grant, how may I request tissues for my proposed research?

We encourage grant applicants to submit a tissue request form with details of your proposed research through NeuroBioBank. The brain bank directors and NIH staff will review this, and may provide feedback. If evidence of funding is provided and the samples are available, they will be shipped at the requestor's expense. If funding is pending, and the Tissue Access Committee approves in principle, the NIH NeuroBioBank can provide a letter of support if needed.

Are there any costs for receiving NeuroBioBank tissues?

The only expense the requestor or receiving lab will be expected to cover is the cost for shipping samples. If your tissue request is approved, you will be asked to provide this shipping information.

Who is responsible for signing the Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)?

Authority to sign MTAs on behalf of the RECIPIENT ORGANIZATION is highly variable. In most cases, Principal Investigators and their staff do not have the signatory authority to legally bind their Institution in Material Transfer Agreements. Please ensure that your MTA is signed by the RECIPIENT SCIENTIST as well as the appropriate Authorized Official prior to submitting your tissue request to the NBB. For most academic institutions, the "Authorized Official" will be a representative from the Technology Transfer Office. The "Recipient Scientist" will be the requestor or the Principal Investigator.
Please email the NIH NeuroBioBank email address with any further questions.

When is the MTA effective? For how long?

The MTA is effective for 1 year after it has been electronically countersigned by the NIH Authorized Official. The contact information is available on the MTA template.

What Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) oversee the NeuroBioBank Brain and Tissue Repositories?

NeuroBioBank IRB Protocols