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South Australian (SA) Brain Bank


The need for a ‘Brain Bank’

Neurological and psychiatric diseases are a major health and socio-economic problem worldwide. Research into many of these disorders is compromised by the lack of suitable animal or in vitro models and thus still relies heavily on studying post-mortem human central nervous system (CNS) tissues. The SA Brain Bank, in collaboration with the Australian Brain Bank Network, collects, processes and distributes post-mortem human brain tissue and related samples for research into neurological and psychiatric conditions. Researchers are provided with clinically and neuropathologically well-characterised human brain tissue on which they can conduct analyses related to their fields of expertise. These studies, using current and evolving technologies, have great potential to unlock our understanding of how these diseases occur and may lead to improvements in diagnosis, treatment or the development of preventative strategies. With an increased life expectancy and an ageing population, it has never been more important to increase our research effort into studying diseases of the central nervous system, so that we may understand the cause, develop effective treatments and reduce the incidence of such diseases. The availability of banked tissue (and linked de-identified clinical information) to enable this research is vital.

SA Brain Bank - Background

The South Australian Brain Bank was established in 1986 by Prof William Blessing, Senior Consultant Neurologist (FMC), NH&MRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Professor of Medicine and Human Physiology (Flinders University); and Prof Peter Blumbergs, AO, Senior Consultant Neuropathologist, IMVS/SA Pathology, RAH, FMC, QEH and Adelaide University, to support research into neurological diseases. In 1993, South Australia joined with the other states to form the Australian Brain Bank Network.
Initially established as a ‘Parkinson’s Disease’ Brain Bank, it was soon evident that there was a need for a repository for research into other neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders, and with funding from continuous NH&MRC Network (1993, 1998), Bridging (2003) and Enabling Grants (2004, 2009), the SA Brain Bank was able to expand its collection to accept other disease categories. The SA Brain Bank has successfully established:

  • A Tissue Donor Program for people to consent to donate their neurological tissues to the Brain Bank after their death
  • Links with internationally recognized research groups utilizing human brain and spinal cord tissues
  • A resource available to facilitate higher degree studies
  • Links with clinical specialists, pathologists, allied health professionals, patient support groups and educational forums to facilitate greater understanding of disease processes
  • An invaluable resource of tissues representing more than 20 neurological and psychiatric disorders, including extremely rare pathologies.

Research into a wide range of diseases of the nervous system, including Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Multiple System Atrophy, Stroke, Motor Neuron Disease, Lewy Body Disease, Frontotemporal and Familial Dementias has been enabled by this resource. Since its inception, the growth in the number of brain donations, research projects supported and publications generated has exceeded expectations.

For the Donor Consent Form or the answers to frequently asked questions, please see the SA Brain Bank Brochure.

Brain Bank Management

Executive Directors
Prof Peter Blumbergs, Head of Neuropathology, Centre for Neurological Diseases, IMVS / SA Pathology
Assoc Prof Mark Slee, Clinical Academic Neurologist, Department of Neurology and Centre for Neuroscience

Ms Robyn Flook, State Coordinator SA Brain Bank, Manager SA Neurological Tumour Bank

Scientific Advisory Committee
Prof Peter Blumbergs
Ms Robyn Flook
Dr Wei-Ping Gai
Mr Jim Manavis
Mr Stephen Nygaard
Assoc Prof John Power
Assoc Prof Mark Slee
Assoc Prof James Temlett
Dr Robert Wilcox


Robyn Flook

Coordinator, SA Brain Bank
Centre for Neuroscience & Dept of Human Physiology
Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide SA 5001
Tel: (08) 8204 4393
Email: robyn.flook@flinders.edu.au
SA Brain Bank Mobile: 0431 500 880


Collaborative Research

Dr Santosh Poonnoose (Flinders Medical Centre), Prof Peter Blumbergs and Jim Manavis (IMVS / University of Adelaide), Dr David Astill (SA Pathology), Dr Ganessan Kichenadasse, Assoc Prof Mark Slee, Dr Rebecca Keough, Dr Michael Michael, Prof Ross McKinnon, Prof Rainer Haberberger, Dr Tim Chataway, Dr Ravi Raghupathi and Robyn Flook (Flinders University): South Australian Neurological Tumour Bank.

Dr Wei-Ping Gai, Discipline of Human Physiology, Flinders University: The neurobiology of neural inclusions in degenerative diseases.

Prof Rob Casson, Dr John Woods, Dr Glyn Chidlow, The South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology (SAIO): The pathology of the optic nerve in glaucoma.

Assoc Prof John Power, Discipline of Human Physiology, Flinders University: The role of peroxiredoxin family of antioxidant enzymes in neuroprotection in neurodegenerative diseases.

Prof Glenda Halliday, Neuroscience Research Australia and University of New South Wales: Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with motor neurone disease and tau inclusions.

Dr Dean L Pountney, Griffith University: Small ubiquitin-related modifier, SUMO-1, in neuroprotection.

Prof Bernhard Baune and Dr David Stacey, University of Adelaide / Royal Adelaide Hospital: Systematic survey of inflammatory marker gene expression in post-mortem brain tissue from individuals diagnosed with psychiatric disease.

Prof Rainer Haberberger, Flinders University: Biolipids as modulators of synaptic transmission in the human dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and spinal cord.

Dr Tim Chataway, Flinders University: Analysis of neural inclusions in ageing and diseased brains.

Assoc Prof Mark Slee and Malgosia Krupa, Flinders University / Flinders Medical Centre: Investigating the role of platelets in multiple sclerosis.

Assoc Prof Dahua Lu, Prof Xiaxin Yan (Central South University, China), Prof Chao Ma, Dr Leping Zheng (Peking University Medical College, China): Joint CSU/PUMC delegation – visit to Flinders Uni to build on research and Brain Bank collaborations.

Latest Media Appearances

  • Robyn Flook and Assoc Prof Mark Slee - Southern Health News, Robyn's our unsung hero, August 2015 issue, p9.
  • SA Brain Bank and Staff - Channel 7 News, Adelaide, Fresh hope for cancer patients, June 2015, https://au.news.yahoo.com/sa/video/watch/28353325/fresh-hope-for-cancer-patients/#page1
  • SA Brain Bank - Flinders Medical Centre Foundation E-News, Lightsview Ride Like Crazy hits $1M goal!, 31 March edition, 2015.
  • Robyn Flook - Southern Health News, Unlocking the mysteries of the brain, December 2013 issue, p3.
  • Timothy Chataway - Southern Health News, Brain Bank pivotal research tool, December 2013 issue, p4.

Recent Publications

*It is a requirement of obtaining tissues from the SA Brain Bank that it is acknowledged in all oral or written presentations or publications that arise from the use of brain bank material, even where the absence of agreed collaborations means that members of the SA Brain Bank are not authors on any publication. The following publications have arisen as the result of use of tissues obtained from the SA Brain Bank.

Wong MB, Goodwin J, Norazit A, Meedeniya AC, Richter-Landsberg C, Gai WP, Pountney DL (2013) SUMO-1 is associated with a subset of lysosomes in glial protein aggregate diseases. Neurotoxicity Research, 23(1):1-21

Kragh CL, Fillon G, Gysbers A, Hansen HD, Neumann M, Richter-Landsberg C, Haass C, Zalc B, Lubetzki C, Gai WP, Halliday GM, Kahle PJ, Jensen PH (2013) FAS-dependent cell death in α-synuclein transgenic oligodendrocyte models of multiple system atrophy. PLoS One, 8(1):e55243

Guerreiro PS, Huang Y, Gysbers A, Cheng D, Gai WP, Outeiro TF, Halliday GM (2013) LRRK2 interactions with α-synuclein in Parkinson's disease brains and in cell models. Journal of Molecular Medicine (Berlin), 91(4):513-22



Updated October 21, 2015