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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 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 developmental and neurological 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. Learn more! 


Go to "Available Disorders" to list all cases available with information on demographics, tissues availability, length of tie in storage, the number of researchers who have requested tissue from each case and the number of tissue samples distributed. RIN values for RNA and 260/280 ratios of available DNA are listed for a significant proportion of the cases.

For access to a database with additional search functions it is necessary to obtain a password by going to the UMB BTB Portal. The portal also lists medical records and neuropathology reports that are in compliance with HIPAAA regulations.

Breakthrough Science

  • 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 and that MTOR was involved in the pruning process. This bank supplied 41 frozen and fixed specimens from 25 donors for this research.

    “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

  • Dr. Eric Courchesne and associates have identified abnormalities in the brain of ASD tissue donors that suggest that these abnormalities originated at prenatal developmental stages. Nineteen of the the 22 tissue samples were provided by the UMB Brain and Tissue Bank.

    "Patches of Disorganization in the Neocortex of Children with Autism" Stoner et al. N. Eng. J. Med. 370:1209-1219, 2014.



The NICHD Brain and Tissue Bank has distributed tissue to over 900 researchers in 26 countries who have published over 600 scientific papers based on research with tissue received from the Bank.

Dateline BTB

May 2014 – IMFAR (International Meeting for Autism Research) in Atlanta provided an excellent opportunity to meet with both researchers and professionals who interact on a daily basis with families who have a family member on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). At least six of the scientific presentations were made possible by tissue received from the NICHD Brain and Tissue Bank. Researchers expressed appreciation for the high quality of the tissue they had received and discussed their on-going research with Ron Zielke, director of the NICHD bank, who manned an exhibitor booth. Additional researchers who had not previously obtained tissue from the Bank made inquiries about tissue availability. Professionals working with individuals with ASD also discussed both registration and tissue recovery issues. As always, IMFAR continues to be a productive site to further postmortem ASD research and obtain information on the latest ASD findings.

March 2014 – John Cottrell attended the spring meeting of coroners in the state of Missouri. The invitation to make a presentation at this meeting was made by an attendee at the February meeting of the American Academy for Forensic Sciences in Seattle. Approximately 130 coroners were in attendance. John gave a 15 minute Powerpoint presentation detailing the need for referrals of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and normal children. John also staffed an exhibitor booth to attract the attention of the coroners. This is a continued effort by the NICH Brain and Tissue Bank to reach out to coroners and medical examiners to participate in the donation of tissue for research.

Dateline BTB - Archive  

(NIH Contract Number: HHSN271201400045C)