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Brain and Tissue Bank

Formerly the NICHD BTB for Developmental Disorders

Three NIH Institutes (NINDS, NIMH and NICHD) have funded a network of Brain and Tissue Banks referred to as the NIH NeuroBioBank. Each of the banks will collect and distribute tissue from donors of research interest to the three institutes. The name of this Bank has been changed since the scope of the Bank is now broader than that of the former "NICHD Brain and Tissue Bank for Developmental Disorders". More information about the operation of the NIH NeuroBioBank is provided on our Tissue Requests page. The UMB Brain and Tissue Bank is located at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics in Baltimore, Maryland.

The mission of the UMB BTB is to advance the research of developmental, neurological and movement disorders. The objective of this human tissue repository is to systematically collect, store, and distribute brain and other tissues for research dedicated to the improved understanding, care and treatment of individuals with these disorders.

Our Family web site is a separate web site dedicated to our tissue donors and their families. A registry of donors has also been established.

The UMB BTB has extensive experience in arranging for the rapid retrieval of tissue upon the death of individuals while at home, in hospitals or hospice care. The Bank is able to assist researchers who are working with patients who intend to donate tissues at the time of their death.

Meetings and Outreach

The Bank is very active in maintaining an ever growing and vital dialog with medical researchers, health care professionals, support groups, families and individuals. Scientific meetings and meetings of support groups are especially important to us.

Breakthrough Science

  • Alternative splicing (AS) in genes generates vast transcriptomic and proteomic complexity greater than the number of genes of an individual. Dr. Geschwind and colleagues report that small regions of 3-15 nucleotides (microexons) display marked evolutionary conservation and switch-like regulation. They state “The results thus reveal a highly conserved program of dynamic microexon regulation associated with the remodeling of protein-interaction networks during neurogenesis, the misregulation of which is linked to autism.”

    "A highly conserved program of neuronal microexons is misregulated in autistic brains." 

    Irimia et al. Cell 159:1511-1523, 2014. (Abstract only)
  • Research in Dr. Snyder’s lab provided a framework for understanding the large number of genes that are altered in ASD. Many of the genes altered in ASD code for proteins in the corpus striatum, a group of structures responsible for controlling movement, motivation and rewards.

    "Integrated Systems Analysis Reveals a Molecular Network Underlying Autism Spectrum Disorders." “Li et al. Molecular Syst. Biol. 10:774, 2014.

  • Dr. Sulzer and his colleagues have established that a major difference between the brains of Autism Spectrum Disorder donors and control brains was that the ASD donors showed evidence of less pruning of spines in layer V pyramidal neurons than normal donors. The research was based on tissue from 25 donors to this bank.

    "Loss of mTOR-Dependent Macroautophagy Causes Autistic-like Synaptic Pruning Deficits" Tang et al. Neuron 83, 1-13, 2014.

  • The laboratories of Anne Comi and Jonathan Pevsner have identified a somatic mutation resulting in Sturge-Weber Syndrome using tissue donated by families with this disorder to the UMB BTB.

    "Sturge–Weber Syndrome and Port-Wine Stains Caused by Somatic Mutation in GNAQ" Shirley et al., N. Eng. J. Med. 2013, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1213507

Did You Know?

The current total number of research publications based in part on tissue received from the University of Maryland Brain and Tissue Bank equals 849. Of these, 168 papers are on Autism Spectrum Disorder which indicates that ASD tissue is the single most sought after tissue from the Bank.


Dateline BTB

November 2016 – Ron Zielke attended the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego.  Over 24,000 scientists from all over the world attended.  Several hundred flyers were distributed to attendees.  Numerous neuroscientists were unaware of the availability of human brain tissue from over 10,000 tissue donations to the six brain and tissue banks comprising the NIH NeuroBioBank.  Dr. Rashed Nagra, Director of the Human Brain and Spinal Fluid Resource Center, assisted at the booth.

November 2016 – Ron Zielke attended the annual meeting of medical examiners from Michigan in Mt. Pleasant, MI.  This allowed contact with medical examiners and pathologists who have been supportive of the UMB-BTB in the past.  The goal was to reinforce current working relations in obtaining PTSD and autism donations to the Bank.

September 2016 – John Cottrell represented the UMB-BTB at the meeting of the National Association of Medical Examiners in Minneapolis in conjunction with Autism BrainNet.  This forum provides a means of informing medical examiners of how they can help identify potential autism tissue donors and further autism research.


Dateline BTB - Archive

(NIH Contract Number: HHSN271201400045C)