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Network of European Brain and Tissue Banks for Clinical and Basic Neuroscience

Final Report Summary - BRAINNET EUROPE II (Network of European Brain and Tissue Banks for Clinical and Basic Neuroscience)

Since the 19th century, scientists have performed autopsies on human brains to better understand the pathogenesis of central nervous system (CNS) disorders. But while methodological advances in brain banking have made their mark in the research world, more work is needed. Clearly, the collection of human brains is key, and BRAINNET EUROPE aimed to provide the solutions.

Launched in 2001, BRAINNET EUROPE has succeeded in bringing together brain banking experts and leading institutes to make the quality of European brain banking a global benchmark, the partners say. Moreover, brain bankers, clinicians and molecular biologists from across Europe were determined to work together to ensure a fruitful outcome. The project partners believe that the concentration of knowledge in brain research is unique in Europe and is leading the way in brain research, both regionally and internationally.

BRAINNET EUROPE was also determined to fuel quality control, specifically by defining 'gold standards' in tissue sampling practice and neuropathological diagnostics, as well as by conducting inter-laboratory studies to harmonise neuropathological diagnostics throughout Europe.

Experiences in all topics relevant to brain banking and to the joint programme of activities were exchanged between BNE partners at the kick-off meeting in Munich, at the network coordination committee (NCC) meetings in Salzburg, Athens, Vienna, London and Munich, and at the network governing board (NGB) meetings in Munich, Budapest, Venice, Stockholm, Barcelona, Malta and Lisbon. All researchers, doctoral students and technicians working for BNE's joint programme of activities were invited to attend the kick-off meeting and the NGB meetings. The attendees of these meetings used the opportunity for fruitful discussions in particular during special work package (WP) meetings and workshops / training sessions for technicians and brain bank managers. In addition, employees of BNE partners took active part in WP meetings and training sessions / workshops beyond regular NGB meetings organised and held by WP leaders.

The training courses comprised workshops on microdissection, morphometry, neuropathological diagnostics, immunohistochemical staining methods, data base construction, data protection, DNA analysis techniques, RNA analysis techniques, protein analysis techniques, analysis techniques for neurochemical substances, laser capture microdissection, legal and ethical issues in brain banking and brain donor recruitment. Some of these courses were also open for interested people, mainly scientists and technicians, from outside the BNE consortium.

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