Dr Claire Shepherd in Brain Bank lab

Sydney Brain Bank


Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, have a huge personal impact in addition to being an increasing economic burden to individuals and the community. There are currently no treatments for many of these disorders, and only symptomatic treatment for some.

Current imaging techniques still cannot assess many cellular biological aspects of the brain, particularly at the molecular level. This is the level that is primarily affected in neurodegenerative diseases, and is the level required to definitively diagnose these diseases and to understand their cellular causes. This is why such tissue is needed for research into understanding and curing these disorders.


According to the Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing;
• In 2011, it was estimated that 298,000 individuals were living with dementia in Australia
• Those aged 65 years or older, almost 1 in 10 had dementia
• This increased to 3 in 10 who had dementia for those aged 85 years or older.
• With the increase of Australia’s elderly population, dementia cases are expected to triple by 2050.
• In 2010 dementia was one of the leading causes of death behind cerebrovascular diseases and ischaemic heart diseases.

Researchers in Australia and overseas interested in investigating areas such as basic disease mechanisms, earlier and more accurate diagnosis, genetic contributions to diseases, better treatments, and ultimately, cure and prevention, can request this tissue for their research studies.

To be successful in our goals, we rely on the generosity and altruism of people who donate their brains for research and also the scientists who request the tissue seeking to alleviate the suffering that neurodegenerative diseases cause.

See what’s going on at NeuRA


'I've got the best job for you dad. Your shaky arm will be perfect for it!'

Children… honest and insightful. Their innocence warms the heart. But what words do you use to explain to a child that daddy has an incurable brain disease? What words tell them that in time he may not be able to play football in the park, let alone feed himself? What words help them understand that in the later stages, dementia may also strike? Aged just 36, this was the reality that faced Steve Hartley. Parkinson's disease didn't care he was a fit, healthy, a young dad and devoted husband. It also didn't seem to care his family had no history of it. The key to defeating Parkinson's disease is early intervention, and thanks to a global research team, led by NeuRA, we're pleased to announce that early intervention may be possible. Your support, alongside national and international foundations Shake it Up Australia and the Michael J Fox Foundation, researchers have discovered that a special protein, found in people with a family history of the disease increases prior to Parkinson’s symptoms developing. This is an incredible step forward, because it means that drug therapies, aimed at blocking the increase in the protein, can be administered much earlier – even before symptoms strike. The next step is to understand when to give the drug therapies and which people will most benefit from it. But we need your help. A gift today will support vital research and in time help medical professionals around the world treat Parkinson’s disease sooner, with much better health outcomes. Thank you, in advance, for your support.