// Brain Tissue Donation Program

Research Overview

The Brain and Biologic Studies of Aging, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program of Mount Sinai School of Medicine is dedicated to furthering the scientific understanding of both healthy aging and of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and to the development of new treatments. This research effort has been ongoing for more than 20 years and has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health. The current drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have been in part based on research conducted at Mount Sinai. Our Mount Sinai group led the first multi-center trials of the prototypical drugs that are currently FDA approved for the treatment of AD. In more recent years, our studies have led to a better understanding of the relationship between the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and the chemical and structural changes in the brain that cause these symptoms.

Continuing success in these projects is dependent upon the strength of our neurobiology program, in which postmortem brain tissue donations are sought. Our ability to develop new and more effective treatments for diseases of aging such as AD depends on the participation of individuals and their families in brain tissue donation/autopsy programs.

Development of successful treatments for memory disorders relies upon our ability to describe and understand changes in the brain tissue of affected individuals. The analysis of brain tissue has direct impact on the generation of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. Discoveries from research on the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients and healthy individuals led directly to the development of medicines now used worldwide to treat memory disorders. In addition to the importance of tissue donations by persons with memory disorders, it is also critically important to be able to study the brain tissue of individuals with no memory or other problems. This is in part true because identifying and understanding what is abnormal is wholly dependent upon understanding what is normal. In addition, tissue donation by healthy individuals will lead to a greater understanding of factors that may protect the brain from disease in aging. Therefore it is a core mission of the Mount Sinai Brain and Biologic Studies of Aging, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program to provide information about tissue donation, in the hopes that more people will join with us in our efforts to fight these devastating diseases.

Perhaps the most important issue to families that have faced diseases such as AD is the strong possibility that the disease may be passed from one generation to the next. For these families, participation in research, particularly the tissue donation program, provides the opportunity to both make a contribution to research and society and to obtain final diagnostic confirmation. With each case in which diagnosis is confirmed or not confirmed through postmortem analysis, the ability of physicians to diagnose diseases of the brain more accurately in living patients is enhanced. It is important to remember that definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can only be made after the expert postmortem examination of the brain using specialized techniques and specially trained neuropathologists.

We are committed to fighting dementia by understanding its causes, developing innovative treatments, and ultimately, finding a cure. We ask that you join us in this effort by participating in our research studies and that you give serious consideration to our brain tissue donation program.

We believe that these studies are absolutely necessary in order to develop treatments and ultimately find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. We ask for your participation with deep respect and appreciation for the generosity that you will demonstrate in deciding to work with us.

Facts to Know

  1. Indicating your intent to participate in research on the enclosed response card is not a binding commitment. You may change your mind at any time.
  2. Participation in our research programs will entail yearly visits or contacts during which the participant can expect all or some of the following to occur: physical examination, interview, blood tests, memory testing.
  3. Study physicians and investigators will review your medical records.
  4. Brain tissue donation will not affect any funeral or burial arrangements that the family may choose.
  5. There is no disruption to the participant’s appearance as a result of tissue donation.
  6. Families will incur no costs as a result of study participation.
  7. Funeral arrangements are not postponed significantly as a result of tissue donation.
  8. Autopsy is both a medical and a research procedure performed by specially trained personnel.
  9. Autopsy involves the retention of brain tissue by Mount Sinai researchers for research purposes.
  10. The procedures for brain tissue donation are ethical and respectful.
  11. A complete neuropathology report is available to participant’s families and/or designated physicians following autopsy and our staff is always available to discuss the findings with families and or participant’s doctor if requested.

Relevant Forms

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding the procedures or any other aspect of the Brain Tissue Donation Program, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be glad to send you written information for your review and are also available to consult with you in person.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Research Center
Contact: Judy Creighton
Tel: (212) 241-1844

24-hour Autopsy Hotline
Tel: (212) 807-5541

In the event of death, call the hotline immediately and ask for the Autopsy Coordinator.