A Legacy of Discovery – Keith & the Sydney Brain Bank

Great men and women of history are remembered for the legacy they created in life.

Keith was a great man in the everyday way. He was a provider, a husband, father and grandfather. By no means a household name, but his legacy not only lives on in the memory of those who loved him, but in what his precious gift teaches us today, tomorrow, and for decades to come.

Keith was a brain donor.

The Sydney Brain Bank, housed at NeuRA, is a critical resource for discoveries. What researchers can learn from brain tissue is very powerful, and at times more powerful than what is revealed in scans, blood tests, medical history or clinical presentation of the living.

What is concerning is that not a single dollar of government funding supports this resource. Supporters like you keep this facility operating.


Please, consider a donation today. Or perhaps you’d like to become a Discovery Partner, and make a monthly commitment that ensures this precious resource continues.

The Sydney Brain Bank, and people like Keith, make a contribution to research like no other.

Can we please count on your support?

Men… they love their sheds, garages and spaces. 

Keith was no different. His garage was meticulously organised with projects on the go.

It is those closest to us that notice the subtle changes… the little moments that cause us to furrow our brows and wonder why our loved one said or acted in ‘that way’.

That moment came when Keith showed no motivation to set up his garage in his new home.

“I said to myself, why is Keith so different? And as I said ‘different’, I stopped. I remember what my father, a GP, had said about my mother when he suspected she had Alzheimer’s disease; that her behaviour was different.”

Lucille and Keith’s world soon changed. A neurologist gave the heartbreaking diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). One year later, Keith was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

“There is an over-riding grief when the person you love has dementia. You can only stand by watching as the person you love loses skills and abilities, one by one,” Lucille remembers.

If you’ve watched someone decline like Lucille did, you’ll know this grief… this pain of a man or woman you love slowly losing their grip on life.

After attending a presentation about the need for brain donation and its immense value to medical research, Keith and Lucille decided it was for them. The Sydney Brain Bank, housed at NeuRA, accepts tissue from both people with neurodegenerative diseases as well as healthy, aged individuals for comparison.

A post-mortem examination of a brain reveals much more than scans can.

The Sydney Brain Bank prepares, stores, and distributes brain tissue samples to researchers in Australia and around the world. Using this precious gift, researchers learn more about an illness than scans, medical history and clinical presentation can reveal.

With no current government funding, please consider giving to the Sydney Brain Bank so that we can continue this imperative work. 

Uniquely, the donor programs that work with the Sydney Brain Bank often monitor a donor’s health for years before they donate their brain. This enables researchers to compare clinical knowledge with what’s observed in brain tissue. Sometimes this research validates a clinical diagnosis yet at other times, the result is a changed diagnosis.

PhD candidate Andrew Affleck’s research is fascinating.

Andrew Affleck is a part-time PhD student and a part-time Sydney Brain Bank staff member. His PhD investigates changes in the brains of Australians who have taken anti-hypertensive medication(s) compared to those who have not.

There have been few studies to date looking at the use of anti-hypertensive medications and the tissue pathology of Alzheimer’s disease, but none in Australia. Andrew is currently assessing whether there is less Alzheimer type changes in the brains of Australians who took anti-hypertensive drugs. The next phase of this research will be to determine exactly which types of anti-hypertensive medications on the Australian market may best protect the brain against dementia. In addition, he will look at the reasons why such drugs could be effective – whether they have a direct effect on receptors in the brain tissue, or whether they affect the flow of blood to the brain.

His study could provide specific drug recommendations for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Wouldn’t this be an incredible achievement!

Without the Sydney Brain Bank, Andrew’s work would not be possible.

Keith passed away in 2008, with Lucille at his bedside. With great dignity and respect, the Sydney Brain Bank arranged Keith’s brain donation without any disruption to funeral plans. Later, NeuRA researchers informed Lucille that Keith had suffered from both frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Lucille also discovered that Keith never had the pathology that underlies Parkinson’s disease, despite years of treatment for this disease.

Keith’s legacy lives on in the memories of his loved ones. He has also created a legacy of discovery, with his precious gift making research possible today, tomorrow, and for years to come.

When the time comes, Lucille will also donate her brain. But right now…

Without your tax-deductible donation, and no government funding, the Sydney Brain Bank may not be able to facilitate future breakthroughs and advancements.

Please, consider a donation today. Or perhaps you’d like to become a Discovery Partner, and make a monthly commitment that ensures this precious resource continues.

You can give by completing the form below or by calling us on 1300 888 019.