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Cohort Acronym

Cohort type
General population-based cohort

Alzheimer's disease, Dementia (unclassified), Frontotemporal dementia, Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Vascular dementia

Participant type
No diagnosis

Recruitment Period Unlimited 
Sample size at start or planned sample size if still recruiting 3200  
Estimated Current Sample Size 0 to 4,999 
Age at Recruitment 65   
Gender Male and Female 

There are over 800,000 people with dementia in the UK today, and this figure is set to double in the next 30 years. Dementia has a huge impact on a person’s life and is one of society’s most urgent health and social care challenges. Despite this, treatment for dementia is very limited and there is no cure.

Human tissue is vital for dementia research but is currently in short supply and is not covered in standard organ donation schemes. With the support of Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, Brains for Dementia Research was set up in 2007 to establish a network of brain bank facilities across England and Wales.

It is now a ‘gold standard’ for brain tissue banking, linking six leading centres (based in London, Oxford, Newcastle, Bristol, Manchester and Cardiff) in a network of common standards, best practice and cooperation. This lays the foundation to enable the highest quality dementia research, which aims to find a cure for dementia. In each bank, people with mild cognitive impairment or a diagnosis of dementia, and healthy participants, are supported to donate their brain by specialist research nurses.

This initiative is unique from other brain banks, as the memory, thinking and behaviour of each prospective donor are monitored throughout their later life through regular assessments. This provides researchers with a complete medical history to accompany the donated brain tissue, allowing them to see how brain changes correlate with symptoms.

Last update – 09/05/2018

Country United Kingdom 
Contact details
Institution name Brains for Dementia Research Coordinating Centre 
Principal Investiator (PI) Professor Alan Thomas 
Contact email [email protected] 
Contact phone number +44 (0) 191 208 2109 
Address Nicky Barnett
BDR Senior Manager
Brains for Dementia Research Coordinating Centre Office
Ground Floor, Edwardson Building
Newcastle University
Institute of Neuroscience
Campus for Ageing and Vitality
Funders (Core support) Alzheimer's Society
Alzheimer's Research UK 

Variables Collected

Brain related measures: Behaviour, Cognitive function, Mental health, Neurological
Funtional rating: Individual psychological
Anthropometric: Blood pressure, Hip circumference, Waist circumference
Physical: Hearing and Vision
Biological samples: Blood, Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), Other
Genotyping: N/A
Brain imaging: N/A
Brain banking: Consent for brain donation
Lifestyle: Alcohol, Dietary habits, Physical activity, Smoking
Socio-economic: Occupation and employment
Health service utilisation: Formal health and social care service utilisation including private care
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