The 1,000 Brains Study

Background

While we know that some lifestyle choices can be a risk factor for dementia and other neurological diseases, the question still remains; why do some people reach old age with a healthy brain and others experience the devastation of living with diseases such as dementia?

Our Aim

The aim of this project is to combine the knowledge of clinical, neuropathology and genetic information to find out if genetic variations in individuals help us predict who will develop neuropathologies that signal the onset of degenerative diseases.

The project also aims to understand what patterns of gene expression are associated with successful ageing.

Real-world outcomes

Identifying the genetic markers that suggest an onset of a neurodegenerative diseases – long before symptoms are seen – will help us develop improved early intervention and protective lifestyle strategies, in addition to new and improved drug therapies.

It will also open up new opportunities for clinical trials that otherwise would not be possible.

What is neuropathology?

Neuropathology is the study of disease of nervous system tissue by examination of changes at both the macroscopic (with the naked eye) and microscopic (under the microscope) level.

The Sydney Brain Bank, located at NeuRA, uses neuropathological techniques to study donated brain tissue in order to fully characterise each case and provide a definitive identification of any neurodegenerative disease that is present.

What are genes and genomics?

Genes are the basis of heredity and contain the instructions for our individual characteristics while genomics is the study of our entire set of genes and their relationship with each other.

Why is it important to study both genes and our brains?

Genetic factors help explain why some of us are at higher risk of developing illnesses than others. By studying both genes and brain tissue from the same individuals, we will be able to identify genes present in neurodegenerative diseases and in the future be able to better predict the likely onset of these conditions.  Similarly, we will be able to determine which genes are associated with healthy brain ageing and what factors make them active.

How can I donate my brain?

The Sydney Brain Bank is a research facility dedicated to the collection, characterisation, storage and distribution of brain and spinal cord tissue for research purposes. It works collaboratively with clinical research programs, who in turn enrol appropriate people from their studies for brain donation. Each of these programs focuses on particular types of brain disorders, or looks at particular populations of people. For more information on these brain donor programs please see either:

Dr Claire Shepherd

Dr Claire Shepherd, Director of the Sydney Brain Bank, will lead the neuropathological investigation of the donated brain tissue in the 1,000 Brain study.

Dr Shepherd trained in neuroscience and completed her PhD in Alzheimer’s disease at the University of Sheffield, UK. After completing her PhD she relocated to Sydney to pursue her interest in the role of inflammation in the neurodegenerative process. She has overseen the Sydney Brain Bank since 2009 and has utilised her extensive experience in neuropathology and in vitro modelling to advance research in fields of the neuropathology of ageing and neurodegeneration.

Support the 1,000 Brain’s Study

The estimated cost of carrying out this critically important project is $5,000 per brain. Will you give a gift that, when combined with donations from around Australia, will drive the future of genetics research?

All gifts over $2 are tax deductible.

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