Tissue Application

Research using postmortem brain tissue can lead the way to a better understanding of the biological causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related neurodevelopmental conditions, and to identify targets for the development of new and effective treatments.

Genetic analyses, neuroimaging studies and in vivo and in vitro models have greatly advanced the knowledge of the biological basis of autism spectrum disorder. Yet the cellular, molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying this condition remain little understood.

The Autism BrainNet Collection
Specimens in the Autism BrainNet collection include brains from individuals with ASD and other neurodevelopmental conditions and neurotypical individuals. These brains were donated to Autism BrainNet since the program launched in 2014. Autism BrainNet also includes and manages the brain tissue collected through the Autism Tissue Program (ATP), previously managed by Autism Speaks.

Tissue is available upon request to approved researchers worldwide.

Please note that tissue is not screened for human pathogens and should be handled using universal precautions.

An overview of available specimens can be found here.

Tissue Application
Researchers from all over the world who are interested in studying autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related neurodevelopmental conditions are eligible to apply to receive human postmortem brain tissue generously donated to Autism BrainNet.

The Tissue Application Form can be found here.

Who can apply to request tissue?

Researchers from all over the world who are interested in studying ASD and related neurodevelopmental conditions are eligible to apply.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of an approved project is a university faculty member eligible to conduct National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research (or similar stature in a commercial enterprise) who will oversee the research project and be responsible for the research activities and the return of data.

All applicants must:

  • Hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree
  • Have a faculty position or the equivalent at a college, university, medical school or other research facility
  • Have adequate funding to carry out the proposed research
How do you request tissue for research?

All applicants must submit a tissue application and demonstrate that they have adequate funding to carry out the proposed project using Autism BrainNet tissue. The Tissue Application Form can be found here.

Prior to finalizing their tissue application, and in order to streamline the request review process, researchers are strongly advised to contact requests@autismbrainnet.org to confirm that the parameters of their request are appropriate.

What is the application review process?

Applications for tissue are reviewed at least quarterly by the Scientific Review Committee and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) and ranked according to their scientific merit and adherence to the mission of Autism BrainNet. Approved applications will be fulfilled by the Autism BrainNet nodes. Approved investigators can communicate their specific tissue and shipment specifications by emailing requests@autismbrainnet.org.

If an application is approved, what are the obligations of the researcher?

The PI’s institution is required to sign a Researcher Distribution Agreement (RDA) before any tissues are transferred. The PI is required to sign a joinder to their institution’s RDA. Among the stipulations in the RDA are the agreement to return all data to Autism BrainNet and to publish results in the public domain with proper acknowledgments of Autism BrainNet.

Are there costs associated with receiving tissue?

While there is no cost for tissue specimens, investigators are responsible for the cost of shipping.

How do I acknowledge Autism BrainNet?

All publications and presentations of work using tissue and data obtained from Autism BrainNet should include the following:

Tissues and data were obtained from Autism BrainNet, a resource of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI). Autism BrainNet also manages the Autism Tissue Program (ATP) collection, previously funded by Autism Speaks. We are grateful and indebted to the families who donated tissue for research purposes to Autism BrainNet and the ATP.

For more information