New partnership between UND and Lieber Institute will expand world’s largest human brain depository

The Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) have announced the establishment of a new partnership to expand the largest human brain repository in the world for the study of developmental brain disorders. The partnership with UND marks the fourth collection site for the LIBD, and will allow researchers to accelerate the rate of tissue collection as well as diversify their samples based on the populations in the UND region.

“Through our collaboration with UND, our biological resources will continue to grow at an extraordinary rate and remain critical to our mission to find new treatments for brain disorders,” said LIBD Chief Medical Officer, Thomas M. Hyde. “We believe that by continuing to expand and diversify the brain repository, scientific research will accelerate towards important new discoveries.”

Mary Ann Sens, professor and chair of the SMHS Department of Pathology, is spearheading the effort at UND.

“We’re thrilled to embark on this partnership with the LIBD, which will allow persons from North Dakota and the upper-Midwest to participate in the exciting research of brain development and function already ongoing elsewhere in the country,” noted Dr. Sens. “Many families are concerned with a wide variety of mental disorders in loved ones and within this community, including things like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. The families want to contribute to understanding these diseases and develop treatments for them. We now directly collaborate with world leaders in neuroscience through the Lieber Institute, which greatly expands our clinical translational research programs and brings a new level of excellence and opportunity to the region.”

Clinical and translational research is research that “translates” discoveries made at the laboratory bench for clinical implementation to directly benefit patients. The SMHS has made clinical and translational research a priority in recent years, a fact that bodes well for the citizens of North Dakota who will benefit from the increasingly rapid application of discoveries made in the laboratory to the treatment of their ailments.

This new collaboration will increase the diversity of brain samples collected, providing researchers with the opportunity to expand the study of neurological and cognitive disorders across the unique genomes that make up the population in North Dakota and the surrounding region.

Since opening in 2011, the LIBD has acquired over 2,200 brain samples—the largest collection for the study of developmental brain disorders in the world—for research critical to understanding brain pathology. With collection sites in Maryland, Michigan, and California, the repository continues to grow at a rate upwards of 500 new cases per year. Together, researchers are utilizing this tremendous asset to discover novel drug treatments and prevention strategies.

The LIBD and UND collaboration will lead to procurement of postmortem brain donations in North Dakota and upper Midwest. To date, the collaboration has already facilitated acquisition of five cases.

About the Lieber Institute for Brain Development

The mission of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and the Maltz Research Laboratories is to translate the understanding of basic genetic and molecular mechanisms of schizophrenia and related developmental brain disorders into clinical advances that change the lives of affected individuals. LIBD is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization and a Maryland tax-exempt medical research institute affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For more information please visit: www.libd.org.