Community Brain Donor Program

As surprising as it may seem, we still do not know what changes occur in the brains of healthy individuals as they age. Without the brain tissue of normal elderly to compare with tissue of elderly affected by Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), scientists cannot determine which changes are caused by the disease and which are due to aging. Although there have been adequate numbers of brains donated from individuals with AD, there is a chronic national shortage of brain tissue donation from individuals known to be free of cognitive dysfunction prior to death. The Community Brain Donor Program helps to alleviate this chronic shortage.

Volunteers involved in the Community Brain Donor Program are 55 years of age and older. They are contacted by telephone each year for a structured interview reviewing vital status, verifying addresses, funeral home arrangements, health status, and administration of the Blessed Orientation Memory Concentration Test. In addition to the telephone evaluation, an update form is sent through the mail to each donor six months following the telephone  assessment. For all volunteers age 80 and older, a more in-depth home interview is conducted.

This study establishes for the first time the feasibility of using newly established telephone health screening methods to confirm the health and cognitive status of a panel of community dwelling individuals consenting to brain donation. It suggests that obstacles to obtaining clinically characterized control brain tissue can be surmounted in an efficient manner.

This study is not currently recruiting new subjects.

For more information, please contact Nicole Fleming at or (503) 494-7040.