Project progress

Brains for Dementia Research was set up in 2007 to provide a way for people to support vital dementia research by signing up to donate their brain. Since then, over 3,200 people signed up to donate their brains to Brains for Dementia Research, and 800 brains have been collected from those who have passed away.

Researcher assessing brain tissue

The commitment of participants enrolled into Brains for Dementia Research to the project has created the opportunity to find out more about the links between ageing and cognition. This has enabled us to add a lifestyle questionnaire to the project, and to collect blood samples from over 370 participants, as well as carrying out more regular reviews of participants. Together, this is helping to enrich the information about participants in the cohort, capturing the earliest changes linked with dementia and supporting high-quality research studies.

Since Brains for Dementia Research began, other UK-wide initiatives have been established, such as Dementias Platform UK and the UK Dementia Research Institute. Dementias Platform UK has created a framework for the storing and sharing of research data, helping researchers to access the information they need for their dementia studies, such as data generated from the Brains for Dementia Research cohort. The UK Dementia Research Institute is a £290million initiative that was established to grow the community of dementia researchers in the UK. Together, these initiatives show the growing efforts and collaboration that is taking place in dementia research, and the drive towards more effective treatments for the condition.

There has been a fantastic response from the research community too, who can see the unique benefit of using brain tissue from Brains for Dementia Research. Researchers can now search for brain tissue using an online database and apply for samples to support their research. Each application is reviewed by leading scientists in the field as well as people with a direct personal connection to dementia to ensure the tissue is only used for research of the highest calibre and relevance to people with dementia. The brain banks have also updated the way that samples are identified and tracked, now using a barcode system and radiofrequency trackers, which streamlines the tissue request process and helps compliance with the Human Tissue Act.

Almost 400 research projects have requested tissue samples to research into all forms of dementia in the UK and abroad, with over 28,000 tissue samples being sent out to researchers. Brains for Dementia Research tissue has been acknowledged in over 250 high quality publications, contributing to the advanced knowledge of the causes of dementia and the development of new treatments.

Locations where brain tissue is being used in research.


To keep you up to date with progress we’re making, we produce newsletters to showcase what’s happening across the network of Brains for Dementia Research.