UT Health San Antonio, UT Southwestern get $1 million to establish brain bank program

Head x-ray, brain in MRI

UT Health San Antonio, through its Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases, along with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, has received a nearly $1 million grant to establish the Texas Statewide Brain Bank Initiative.

The $983,841 collaborative research grant is from the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium, or TARCC. Kevin Bieniek, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and director of the Biggs Institute Brain Bank, and Jamie Walker, MD, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and co-director of the brain bank, will serve as co-principal investigators at UT Health San Antonio. Charles White III, MD, a professor of pathology, leads the efforts at UT Southwestern.

With sites throughout the state, the initiative will allow for timely removal and preservation of autopsied brain tissue. The tissue will be processed at San Antonio and stained slides will be sent to UT Southwestern to create a high-resolution digital slide library integrated with the TARCC biobank. Neuropathology teams in San Antonio and Dallas will work together to characterize and diagnose these cases.

Through this initiative, families in rural, suburban and urban areas throughout Texas will have access to vital brain donation services. Using brain autopsy tissue, the investigators will be able to accurately diagnose numerous neurodegenerative disorders and provide answers, in the form of a neuropathological diagnosis, to the donor’s family.

Also, biomedical researchers will be able to examine human brain samples and conduct experimental studies aimed at understanding, diagnosing, treating and ultimately curing complex and debilitating neurodegenerative disorders.

The initiative will focus on collecting brain donations from individuals who participated in other TARCC-funded clinical research studies since 2005, allowing researchers to link findings in past studies to underlying disease pathology.

The Texas Statewide Brain Bank Initiative will help facilitate brain donation and autopsy at many TARCC member institutions, which include Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, the University of North Texas Health Science Center, the Texas A&M Health Science Center, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, the UT Medical Branch at Galveston, the UT Health Science Center at Houston, the UT Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, UT Southwestern Medical Center and UT Health San Antonio.

Additional information regarding the Texas Statewide Brain Bank Initiative Collaborative Research Grant can be found at http://www.txalzresearch.org/research/investigator-grant-awards/. TARCC is a part of the state-funded Darrell K. Royal Texas Alzheimer’s Initiative.

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