For Researchers


Access Information for Researchers

The Queensland Brain Bank (QBB) is located at The University of Queensland and has the function of providing Australian and International researchers with easy access to well-characterised post mortem human central nervous system (CNS) tissue on which they can conduct analyses related to their fields of endeavour. Tissue is available from people diagnosed with a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including, but not restricted to: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Motor Neuron disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington’s disease and normal controls. Tissue is available which is fresh frozen, formalin fixed, or paraformaldehyde fixed.

In most cases the following areas are dissected from one hemisphere then stored in an isotonic sucrose solution at -8oC. Some areas are also collected in paraformaldehyde (these are maked with a P).

Caudate – anterior, mid, posterior
Cerebellum (P)
Cingulate – anterior (P), posterior (P)
Frontal cortex – superior (P), mid, inferior (P)
Hippocampus (P)
Mammillary body
Motor cortex – anterior (P), posterior
Nucleus accumbens
Occipital pole (P)
Parietal (Wernicke’s area) (P)
Temporal cortex – superior, mid (P), inferior (P)

Some cases are collected by sectioning the hemisphere on the coronal plane prior to storage in isotonic sucrose solution at -8oC. In these cases the areas required by the researchers will be cut from the frozen slab.

In all cases, the other hemisphere is fixed in 20% formalin for neuropathology examination. This tissue is also available to researchers.

The QBB is supported by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council. The QBB is part of the Australian Brain Bank Network (ABBN), which is a collaboration between resource centres across Australia to optimise collection, handling and use of human brain tissue and related samples for the conduct of research into neurological and psychiatric conditions.

Information about the national network is available at Contact page of this site). A tissue request application can then be sent onto the researcher.

Discussions between applicants and the QBB are encouraged prior to the submission of the application. The QBB personnel can provide useful advice and expertise on the use of human tissue and the availability of tissue.

The chief investigator must have obtained appropriate Human Ethics approval for the specified scientific project from their parent institution before submitting a request. A letter of approval from the Human Ethics Committee of the applicant’s parent institution must be made available prior to the tissue being provided for the research project.

You will also need to complete this QBB Tissue Request form and read this QBB Guidelines for researchers. The signed completed application should be returned to the QBB coordinator.

All applications are reviewed by the QBB Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) that comprises QBB members and independent specialist scientists. The provision of tissue to the applicant will be based on scientific merit and feasibility of the research proposals.

Applicants must understand and agree that in submitting the application for tissue it will be assessed by members of the SAC who are involved in collecting CNS tissue at autopsy and to abide by their decision on whether tissue will be supplied and any limitations placed on the provision of tissue (e.g. size of sample or number of samples).

On approval of the application the researcher will be notified and arrangements will be made with the QBB coordinator to provide the approved tissue and documentation.

It is obligatory to sign the Certification Agreement before the tissue will be provided.

Resource limitations

Applicants must accept that decisions regarding the supply of tissue will be made in light of overall demands placed on the QBB and the impact of these demands on available tissue. Applications may need to be modified before submission, dependent on disease category, region and amount of tissue available.

Handling Risks and Safety Precautions

Post mortem tissue is potentially infectious and therefore any tissue supplied is on the understanding that experiments performed will be undertaken in appropriate facilities. The QBB accepts no responsibility for the transmission of any disease or injury as a result of the use of any materials supplied. While every effort is made to exclude infectious cases, the QBB cannot guarantee that all cases are not infectious, therefore we recommend all cases be handled as being potentially infectious at all times.

The principle investigators must accept full responsibility to ensure that all staff use proper and approved safety precautions when working with CNS tissues provided by the QBB. It is highly recommended that all staff handling human tissue have their hepatitis immune status verified and undergo vaccination, if needed.

Use of Tissue

The tissue provided must only be used solely for the project identified on the Tissue Request Application. Any proposed modification from the agreed protocol must be communicated in writing to the QBB and the modification approved by the SAC prior to using the modified tissue protocol.

Recipients must not distribute tissue to other researchers without written authorisation from the QBB.

Freight Cost

In most cases, the transport cost for the delivery of the tissue will be the responsibility of the recipient.

Access rates

Australian legislation clearly prohibits the sale of human tissues. Tissue may be provided to researchers at no charge. However, to offset the considerable expenditure by the QBB for the procurement of tissue including processing and operation costs associated with donor recruitment, tissue collection, processing, diagnosis, storage, data management and quality assurance some cost recovery may be necessary.

Any cost recovery fees will be discussed with the applicant beforehand.


As part of the application approval process the SAC will discuss each project and will make a recommendation regarding whether the tissue request justifies seeking co-authorship or whether acknowledgement of the QBB is sufficient. In making its recommendation the SAC will refer to the authorship section of the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice.

The QBB must be acknowledged in all oral and written presentations and publications arising from the use of material even where the absence of agreed collaborations means that members of the QBB are not authors on any publication.

It is expected that significant intellectual input during the data analysis process may be required from QBB members and therefore it is possible that active collaboration and resulting co-authorship that were not planned during the initial submission may arise.

Any publications from research using QBB tissue will acknowledge the source of the tissue, and the QBB will be notified of their publication.

For tissue accessed from the QBB the following wording must be used: “Tissues were received from the Queensland Brain Bank in collaboration with the Australian Brain Bank Network which is supported by the National Health & Medical Research Council”.

For abstracts where space is limited the following acknowledgement statement should appear: “Tissues were received from the Queensland Brain Bank”.

This recognition is vital for the continued operation and justification of the labour intensive task of collection, processing, characterisation and distribution of post mortem human CNS tissue.

Case information and data integrity

The information available to researchers includes age, sex, post mortem interval, and neuropathology report. In addition, when available, clinical information such as medication history, disease progression, social and family history and neuro-imaging.

Applicants have access to the tissue and clinical information only through a unique identifier assigned by the QBB to ensure confidentiality is maintained.

On receipt of the tissue, researchers must issue new unique identifiers for each case. No original QBB unique identifiers are to be published.

Tissues provided

Any tissue transferred from the QBB to the recipients remains under the control of the QBB. The recipients have only a non-exclusive right to use the tissue within the terms of the agreement. Consistent with this non-exclusive right, the recipients are not permitted to sell, loan or otherwise provide the tissues to a third party without prior written consent of the QBB.

Recipients must understand that any unused tissue must be returned to the QBB upon the completion of the project for use by others or if requested at any other time by the QBB.

Certification by Chief Investigator and Co investigators

Certification must be signed by the Chief investigator and Co investigator(s) before the tissue will be provided.

In signing the application you are signifying that you have read and understood your responsibilities on receipt of the tissue.

Annual report

The principle investigator must provide an annual report on the progress and outcomes of the project including publications, scientific presentations and press resulting from the research.

The report serves to assess the utilisation and the effectiveness of the QBB. The protocols are frequently reviewed and amended to meet the requests of researchers, to address ongoing and possible future needs and to ensure a high standard quality of tissue is maintained.

Annual reports are required until the completion of the project.

Contact details

For more information, and to discuss the availability of tissue for your specific research, please contact the QBB coordinator via the Contact page of this website.