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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, neurological and movement 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 these 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

  • Alternative splicing (AS) in genes generates vast transcriptomic and proteomic complexity greater than the number of genes of an individual. Dr. Geschwind and colleagues report that small regions of 3-15 nucleotides (microexons) display marked evolutionary conservation and switch-like regulation. They state “The results thus reveal a highly conserved program of dynamic microexon regulation associated with the remodeling of protein-interaction networks during neurogenesis, the misregulation of which is linked to autism.”

    “A highly conserved program of neuronal microexons is misregulated in autistic brains.” 

    Irimia et al. Cell 159:1511-1523, 2014. (Abstract only)
  • Research in Dr. Snyder’s lab provided a framework for understanding the large number of genes that are altered in ASD. Many of the genes altered in ASD code for proteins in the corpus striatum, a group of structures responsible for controlling movement, motivation and rewards.

    “Integrated Systems Analysis Reveals a Molecular Network Underlying Autism Spectrum Disorders.” “Li et al. Molecular Syst. Biol. 10:774, 2014.

  • 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. The research was based on tissue from 25 donors to this bank.

    “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



The current total number of research publications based in part on tissue received from the University of Maryland Brain and Tissue Bank equals 749. Of these, 145 papers are on Autism Spectrum Disorder which indicates that ASD tissue is the single most sought after tissue from the Bank.

Dateline BTB

November 2014 – Ron Zielke attended the meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington. In addition to attendance of scientific presentations, the meeting provided an opportunity to speak with past tissue recipients and also introduce the NIH NeuroBioBank to a large number of attendees. John Cottrell and Rob Johnson helped man the booth. The Autism Research Institute provided partial coverage of travel costs.

September 2014 – The Autism Research Institute supported Ron Zielke’s travel to the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) Meeting in Portland, Oregon. Two items were accomplished: A verbal presentation entitled “The Medical Examiner’s Office as a Potential Source of a Wide Range of Disorders Needed for Medical Research” was made to the 500+ medical examiners who attended the meeting. The presentation was also used to introduce the creation of the NIH NeuroBioBank. In addition, an exhibit was manned to introduce researchers to the importance of referrals of potential autism and young controls donors to the Bank.

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.

Dateline BTB - Archive  

(NIH Contract Number: HHSN271201400045C)