Brain Donations Make Research Possible

Posted on June 14, 2023

By Tish Hevel, CEO
Brain Donor Project

Brain Donor Project Logo

If you’re interested in advancing the science of neurologic diseases and disorders, including essential tremor, here’s something you may want to consider: making arrangements now to donate your brain when you die. There is currently an urgent need for brain donation for a variety of neurological disorders. Breakthroughs in neuroscience require this precious resource, for which there simply is no substitute.

The Brain Donor Project is an innovative not-for-profit that was developed to support the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in making available high quality, well characterized brain tissue for neurologic researchers. Our focus is on raising awareness of the critical need for this precious tissue and on simplifying the process of brain donation upon death. We support the brain banks of the NIH, called the NeuroBioBank, by making this tissue widely available to qualified researchers studying specific disorders. Even though more has been learned about the human brain in the last 20 years than in all of recorded history, there is so much yet to discover, especially when it comes to highly perplexing disorders. Your help is needed. You may not be aware that…

  • Signing up to be an organ donor does not mean your brain is included. Separate arrangements need to be made for brain donation.
  • Donating your body for anatomical study does not mean your brain will be used for neurological research. Again, separate arrangements are needed.
  • People who have not been diagnosed with a neurological disorder can help, too. Control brains are just as valuable.
  • Brain donation is not disfiguring – an open casket is still an option.
  • There’s no additional cost to the family for brain donation.

Starting the process is easy – go to to get answers to your questions about brain donation. When you’re ready to sign up, click on the “Sign Up” button at the top right, and complete the online form. You’ll be asked mainly for contact information and if you’ve been diagnosed with a neurologic condition. Know that your medical records will later be used to verify.

Once you submit the form, you’ll hear from one of the brain banks within the NeuroBioBank of the NIH within 10 business days. Consent and release forms will be delivered to you, along with instructions for your family or whoever will be tasked with carrying out your wishes when you die. When that time comes, your body will be transported to a medical or mortuary location (at no cost to your family) for the brain to be retrieved and shipped. Time is of the essence at this point, so making arrangements to register in advance helps ensure all this coordination can be accomplished as quickly as possible and the body is then released for whatever funeral arrangements will take place.

Categories: ET Research