Banking brains: a pre-mortem “how to” guide to successful donation

Daniel Trujillo Diaz, Nora C. Hernandez, Etty P. Cortes, Phyllis L. Faust, Jean Paul G. Vonsattel, Elan D. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A review of the brain banking literature reveals a primary focus either on the factors that influence the decision to become a future donor or on the brain tissue processing that takes place after the individual has died (i.e., the front-end or back-end processes). What has not been sufficiently detailed, however, is the complex and involved process that takes place after this decision to become a future donor is made yet before post-mortem processing occurs (i.e., the large middle-ground). This generally represents a period of many years during which the brain bank is actively engaged with donors to ensure that valuable clinical information is prospectively collected and that their donation is eventually completed. For the past 15 years, the Essential Tremor Centralized Brain Repository has been actively involved in brain banking, and our experience has provided us valuable insights that may be useful for researchers interested in establishing their own brain banking efforts. In this piece, we fill a gap in the literature by detailing the processes of enrolling participants, creating individualized brain donation plans, collecting clinical information and regularly following-up with donors to update that information, and efficiently coordinating the brain harvest when death finally arrives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-488
Number of pages16
JournalCell and Tissue Banking
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Autopsy
  • Brain banking
  • Brain donation
  • Enrollment
  • Essential tremor
  • Follow-up
  • Pre-mortem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation


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