Brain Donation

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Why donate?

Brain donation provides individuals the opportunity to help others affected by dementia by advancing our scientific understanding of neurodegenerative diseases and healthy aging. We honor the gift of donation and treat donors, their bereaved families, and all tissue with care and respect.

Examining the brain after death is currently the only way to obtain a definitive diagnosis of the underlying causes of dementia. A diagnosis of absolute certainty cannot be made by clinical evaluation alone.

Families can learn important information about their loved one’s disease through autopsy, and our neurologists discuss the autopsy findings with each family after the analysis is complete. Some families find brain donation and the final diagnosis help them obtain closure.

Who can be a brain donor?

Patients and research participants of the Memory and Aging Center (MAC) are eligible for brain donation through the MAC Autopsy Program. Due to resource constraints, at this time we are unable to accept donations from individuals not affiliated with the MAC. Feel free to contact us for referrals to other brain donation programs.

How is the tissue used?

Research into the development of new treatments and diagnostic tools is conducted using donated tissue. Some experiments are performed within the NDBB while other studies are conducted in laboratories throughout the world that request materials from the NDBB.

Contact us for details

Planning for brain donation in advance is important, and we encourage interested individuals to contact us as soon as possible to discuss the program in more detail. Although enrollment may take place at the time of death, advanced planning allows the coordination process to go more smoothly and may reduce the emotional stress a family feels at the time of a loved one’s passing.

Simply call us with questions. General inquiries may be made during business hours, and the autopsy coordinator is available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week for urgent needs (i.e., near or at the time of a donor’s death).

Autopsy Coordinator:
Phone: 415.476.1681
Email: autopsy@memory.ucsf.edu
24/7 pager: 415.719.8281