Dr Claire Shepherd in the Sydney Brain Bank labs

Sydney Brain Bank

FACILITY INFORMATION

ABOUT US

What is the Sydney Brain Bank?

The Sydney Brain Bank was established in 2009 and is located at NeuRA, one of Australia’s leading institutes in brain research.

Funded by NeuRA, the Sydney Brain Bank currently holds more than 700 brains.

Researchers conduct studies on these brains to gain a greater understanding of neurodegenerative conditions, which helps create better treatments.

The Sydney Brain Bank currently works with 10 brain donor programs.  These focus on conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron disease, Huntington’s disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration and neurologically unaffected individuals.

On November 27, the National Rugby League (NRL) announced its support of the most recent donor program to the Sydney Brain Bank.  This research at NeuRA is looking into the prevalence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and impact of sports-related brain injuries.

 

How does the brain bank work?

Brain donors have detailed health assessments before their death in order to examine how neurodegenerative changes may or may not be impacting on their quality of life.

After death, a donor’s brain is divided into two halves, one side is frozen and the other is preserved in formalin.  This enables researchers to examine both cellular biochemical changes as well as any irregularities within the structure of the brain.

 

Why is this research so important?

Brain tissue from the Sydney Brain Bank is not only used by researchers at NeuRA, but by many researchers across Australia and throughout the world.  It is a vital resource for global research, with Sydney Brain Bank tissue facilitating over 300 studies since 2009.

Research into neurodegenerative diseases is impossible without the support of brain banks.  Only through post-mortem research can we identify the cellular changes occurring in the brains of those with neurological disorders.  Improved knowledge about diseases such as dementia or CTE could lead a better understanding of how they could be prevented.

 

How is the Sydney Brain Bank funded?

The Sydney Brain Bank is supported by NeuRA through philanthropic donations made to the NeuRA Foundation, and successfully awarded philanthropic and competitive grant funds.

 

How can you join a donor program?

Want to learn more about the Sydney Brain Bank and brain donation? Then please head to our Frequently Asked Questions page

 

The Sydney Brain Bank is based at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) which is located next to the Prince of Wales Hospital on Barker St in Randwick NSW.

Find us on Google maps
Download a Randwick Hospitals campus map (PDF)

   

 

SYDNEY BRAIN BANK TEAM

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Abdominal muscle stimulation to improve bowel function in spinal cord injury

Bowel complications, resulting from impaired bowel function, are common for people living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). As a result, people with a SCI have high rates of bowel related illness, even compared with those with other neurological disorders. This includes high rates of abdominal pain, constipation, faecal incontinence and bloating. These problems lower the quality of life of people with a SCI and place a financial burden on the health system. A treatment that improves bowel function for people with a SCI should reduce illness, improve quality of life and lead to a large cost saving for health care providers. Bowel problems have traditionally been managed with manual and pharmacological interventions, such as digital rectal stimulation, enemas, and suppositories. These solutions are usually only partially effective, highlighting the need for improved interventions. The abdominal muscles are one of the major muscle groups used during defecation. Training the abdominal muscles should improve bowel function by increasing abdominal pressure. During our previous Abdominal FES research with people with a SCI, we observed that Abdominal FES appeared to lead to more consistent and effective bowel motion. However, this evidence remains anecdotal. As such, we are going to undertake a large randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of Abdominal FES to improve the bowel function of people with a SCI. This study will make use of a novel measurement system (SmartPill, Medtronic) that can be swallowed to measure whole gut and colonic transit time. We will also assess whether Abdominal FES can change constipation-related quality of life and the use of laxatives and manual procedures, as well as the frequency of defecation and the time taken. A positive outcome from this study is likely to lead to the rapid clinical translation of this technology for people living with a SCI.
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