The UTHealth Houston Brain Collection: For Research in Mental Health Disorders

OVERVIEW

The UTHealth Houston Brain Collection for Research in Psychiatric Disorders is a resource to help study brain disorders and create healthy changes for future generations. Brain tissue provides a crucial resource for understanding brain function and how this regulates behavior, and for identifying the biological causes of mental illness and other psychological problems, such as substance abuse. The study of the human brain is often challenging and difficult due to limited access to brain tissue. The only way to obtain this tissue is through donations made by family members. Yet many people are not aware of the possibility of making a donation.

In close collaboration with the Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston, brain tissue is obtained postmortem from individuals after the donation is made by family members.  Blood is also obtained to perform genetic analysis, test for viral infection(s), and/or other substances pertinent to our research.  Brain tissue is carefully collected and preserved, following specialized procedures that ensure preservation for future use in research. The UTHealth Brain Collection uses high-quality tissue in combination with extensive clinical information to drive evidence-based research.  As part of the clinical information, we also perform a detailed ‘Psychological Autopsy’ which is an interview with the next-of-kin about aspects of the subject’s personality, well-being and mental health.

The generous donation of brain tissue is a true gift to future generations. We greatly appreciate those who consider donation.


RESEARCH

Under the direction of Dr. Walss-Bass and Dr. Meyer, the UTHealth Brain Collection conducts research to investigate potential associations of personality and behavioral measures with molecular and biological information.

The UTHealth Brain Collection is happy to collaborate with other institutions and will approve requests for brain tissue from the collection. Approval is contingent on (but not limited to) the following criteria:

  1. The collaborating scientist is working with either Dr. Walss-Bass and/or Meyer on an appropriate scientific project.
  2. The collaborating scientist can demonstrate successful experiments/ assays in preliminary samples of tissue provided or has extensively published similar studies.
  • The collaborative scientist is willing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Dr. Walss-Bass and Dr. Meyer.

DONATION PROCESS

The generous donation of brain tissue is a true gift to future generations. We greatly appreciate those who consider donation.

The donation must take place as soon as possible after the death of your loved one in order to preserve the tissue for experimentation. The removal process is part of the usual autopsy procedures and will not affect the appearance of your loved one and allows for an open casket or other funeral arrangement of your choice.

If you choose to proceed with the donation process please contact the UTHBC at 7134862622 and a representative will discuss the donation process.


TISSUE REQUESTS

For research collaborations and to request tissue obtained by the UTHBC for your projects please send the completed Tissue Request Form to Dr. Consuelo Walss-Bass.


PUBLICATIONS/IN THE NEWS

Inside a Houston brain bank, UTHealth Houston researchers investigate mysteries of drug addiction– Houston Chronicle, November 2022

Sex differences in brain gene expression among suicide completers – PubMed, April 2021

White matter deficits in cocaine use disorder: convergent evidence from in vivo diffusion tensor imaging and ex vivo proteomic analysis – Translational Psychiatry, April 2021

Genome-Wide Correlation of DNA Methylation and Gene Expression in Postmortem Brain Tissues of Opioid Use Disorder Patients – International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, July 2021

Angiogenic gene networks are dysregulated in opioid use disorder: evidence from multi-omics and imaging of postmortem human brain – Molecular Psychiatry, August 2021

Directors

Consuelo Walss-Bass, PhD
713-486-2718 (office)
210-724-4686 (cell)
Meyer, Thomas bipolar disorderThomas D. Meyer, PhD
713-486-2759 (office)