How brains power Parkinson’s research

Weighing in at around 1.4kg — the human brain is our most precious and mysterious organ. Despite centuries of research we still know surprisingly little about how our brains work or how to fix them when things go wrong in conditions like Parkinson’s.
One of the reasons for this is that during life, the human brain is very difficult for scientists to study. Unlike some other organs, we cannot simply take samples to study under the microscope, and brain scanning techniques (although getting better all the time) are limited. In addition, complex brain conditions – like Parkinson’s, dementia, depressions and schizophrenia – are pretty unique to humans which makes them difficult to study in animals.
All this means that studying human brain tissue that is donated for research is still one of the most important ways we can study Parkinson’s.
Research made possible through the donation of brain tissue has already led to some of the most crucial advances in our understanding of Parkinson’s, and resulted in new treatments being developed and tested.
Donated tissue is leading to the discoveries which will help us find a cure and improve the lives of the 145,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK.

The tissue is supplied to researchers studying Parkinson’s all over the world, enabling research that is helping us uncover the discoveries that will lead to better treatments and a cure.
But how does our brain tissue go from our bodies to a researcher’s laboratory bench? Here we guide you through the process of brain donation, describing events both before and after donation.

You can pledge to donate your brain

The Brain Bank, based at Imperial College London, collects precious tissue from people with and without Parkinson’s who have decided to leave their brains to Parkinson’s research.

The donation of brain tissue has already led to major advances in our understanding of Parkinson’s, and resulted in new treatments being developed and tested.

People with and without Parkinson’s can sign up and pledge to donate their brain for research. Donation is not an easy decision and we are extremely grateful to the donors and their families who have chosen to do this.

Step by step process

Step 1:

Download, print and complete the Brain Bank donor form with your details.

Step 2:

Ask your next of kin to complete page 3.

Step 3:

Send all completed forms to the Brain Bank:

Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank
Division of Brain Sciences
Imperial College London
Hammersmith Campus
Du Cane Road
London W12 0NN