Brain Autopsy & Tissue Research

The HDCRC maintains an HD brain bank. The bank is a depository for brain tissue that has been donated for research. A brain bank is a depository for brain tissue that has been donated for research purposes.

The postmortem analysis of brain tissue is a vital aspect of this research, through which we can examine the changes in the brain and correlate them with motor, cognitive, and behavioral changes that occur in HD.

Brain tissue research will help to further our understanding of how the central nervous system functions and has already proven to be invaluable by playing a significant role in the development of the genetic test for HD.

Brain donations are accepted only from current research participants and require that the tissue be removed as close to the time of death as possible. An autopsy is limited to the head and is done free of charge at the UCSD Medical Center. A report will be provided to the family, and physician, if requested.

There is a transportation fee charged to transport the body to the hospital. Please contact the Center coordinator for further details. If the fee will pose a problem to you, we will discuss available options.

After consenting to a brain donation, you will receive detailed information with instructions about how to proceed at the time of your death. It is important to inform a family member or friend of your wishes and provide them with this information.

It is recommended that you inform your personal physician or other healthcare provider if you have been admitted to a facility for care so that the consent and information can be placed in your medical record. If you move out of the area, we can help with making arrangements with the local department of pathology.

Everyone who authorizes this procedure will be making available valuable research materials which may help us to understand how to protect future generations. Although the gene mutation responsible for HD has been identified, it is critical to continue seeking the causes, prevention, and cure for Huntington’s disease. 

If you are a current research participant and are interested in becoming a brain donor, please call us at (858) 249-0568.