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 at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) was established in 2009 and is one of Australia’s leading institutes in brain research.

Jointly funded by NeuRA and UNSW, the Sydney Brain Bank currently holds more than 650 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 to the Sydney Brain Bank 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 is used 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.

Global 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 cooperatively managed and supported by NeuRA and the University of New South Wales.

It also receives support from philanthropic donations made to the NeuRA Foundation.

 

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

Portrait of Prof Glenda Halliday

PROFESSOR GLENDA HALLIDAY SBB Research Neuropathologist

Carla Scicluna

CARLA SCICLUNA Research Assistant

BRIONY DURAND Research Assistant : 9399 1826
: b.durand@neura.edu.au

See what’s going on at NeuRA

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Abdominal Functional Electrical Stimulation for Orthostatic Hypotension in Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in the loss of function to not only voluntary motor control, but also to the regulatory systems that control bodily processes. Orthostatic (postural) hypotension (OH) is a common clinical feature in SCI patients, affecting up to 73% of patients with cervical spine and upper thoracic spine injuries during mobilisation and postural changes. This often results in symptoms of dizziness, light-headedness, fatigue and confusion, in turn limiting individual participation in physical rehabilitation and restricting progress towards regaining function and independence. Therapeutic interventions are centred around ameliorating symptoms of OH; however, options for patients remain limited. Non-pharmacological treatments have had little success at treating hypotension in the long-term, while pharmacological interventions are used only when necessary as they may contribute to hypertension and even worsen episodes of autonomic dysreflexia, a life-threatening condition. Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) is one of the only interventions that has been shown to display some benefit in improving OH. Recently, stimulation of the lower limbs has been shown to acutely increase blood pressure in patients with SCI. Our recent projects have involved the use of FES applied over the abdominal muscles, termed abdominal FES, for SCI patients at risk of respiratory complications with promising results. As this same population is at risk of orthostatic hypotension, this study aims to determine whether abdominal stimulation can also be used to help this condition. Based on our previous research, we believe that abdominal FES will increase blood pressure acutely during an orthostatic challenge in individuals with acute spinal cord injury, allowing for a longer time spent in a standing position. This will facilitate more effective rehabilitation, therefore improving quality of life and decreasing associated medical complications.
PROJECT