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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

FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

The RESTORE Trial: Immersive Virtual Reality Treatment for Restoring Touch Perception in People with Discomplete Paraplegia

Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin, Prof James Middleton, A/Prof Zina Trost, Prof Ashley Craig, Prof Jim Elliott, Dr Negin Hesam-Shariati, Corey Shum and James Stanley While recognition of surviving pathways in complete injuries has tremendous implications for SCI rehabilitation, currently no effective treatments exist to promote or restore touch perception among those with discomplete SCI. The proposed study will address this need by developing and testing a novel intervention that can provide touch restoration via the primary source of sensory perception: the brain.Complete spinal cord injury (SCI) is associated with a complete loss of function such as mobility or sensation. In a recent discovery we revealed that 50% of people with complete SCI still have surviving somatosensory nerve fibres at the level of the spine. For those with complete SCI this is hopeful news as it means -- contrary to previous belief that communication to the brain had been severed by injury -- that the brain is still receiving messages. This new SCI type is labelled “discomplete SCI” -- a SCI person who cannot feel touch, but touch information is still forwarded from the foot to the brain. The project will use virtual reality (VR) in a way it has never been used before. We will develop the first immersive VR interface that simultaneously enhances surviving spinal somatosensory nerve fibres and touch signals in the brain in an effort to restore touch perception in people with discomplete SCI. In other words, immersive VR is being used to re-train the brain to identify the distorted signals from toe to head as sensation (touch). For example, participants will receive touch simulation in the real world (e.g., their toe) while at the same time receiving corresponding multisensory touch stimuli in the virtual world (e.g., experiencing walking up to kick a ball). This project is the first effort worldwide to restore touch sensation in 50% of individuals with complete injuries. The outcomes to be achieved from the current study will represent a cultural and scientific paradigmatic shift in terms of what can be expected from life with a spinal cord injury. In addition, the project allows potential identification of brain mechanisms that may ultimately represent direct targets for acute discomplete SCI rehabilitation, including efforts to preserve rather than restore touch perception following SCI. RESTORE consolidates the expertise of scientists, clinicians, VR developers and stakeholders from NeuRA and UNSW School of Psychology (A/Prof Sylvia Gustin, Dr Negin Hesam-Shariati), John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research, Kolling Institute and University of Sydney (Prof James Middleton, Prof Ashley Craig and Prof Jim Elliott), Virginia Commonwealth University (A/Prof Zina Trost), Immersive Experience Laboratories LLC (Director Corey Shum) and James Stanley. If you are interested in being contacted about the RESTORE trial, please email A/Prof Sylvia Gustin (s.gustin@unsw.edu.au) and include your name, phone number, address, type of SCI (e.g., complete or incomplete), level of injury (e.g., T12) and duration of SCI (e.g., 5 years).
PROJECT