Brain donation

For more information about donating brain tissue for research in Canada, contact the following:

The Maritime Brain Tissue Bank
Sir Charles Tupper Building
Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Phone: Andrew Reid at (902) 494-4130

The Douglas-Bell Canada Brain Bank (residents of Quebec)
Douglas Hospital Research Centre
6875 LaSalle Blvd.
Borough of Verdun
Montreal, Quebec H4H 1R3
Phone: (514) 761-6131 ext. 0 and ask for the “brain bank”

Note: Brain donation to the Douglas-Bell Canada Brain Bank is currently restricted to participants of longitudinal cohort studies such as CIMA-Q ( and CCNA (

How to make arrangements for brain donation

  1. Inform the attending physician that you would like an autopsy of the brain to be made and request a consent for autopsy form.
  2. Complete a consent for autopsy form as follows:
    1. indicate that a brain autopsy is being requested
    2. specify in writing that a donation to a brain bank is also being requested
    3. indicate which location you would like the brain donation to be sent to: 1) Maritime Brain Tissue Bank or 2) Douglas-Bell Canada Brain Bank
    4. ensure that the next of kin signs the consent form
  3. The on-call pathologist within the hospital is to be notified that a brain autopsy has been requested.
  4. Contact the brain bank to inform them that a brain donation is being made following the autopsy.
  5. Following the autopsy, hospital staff will make arrangements to have half of the brain sent to the requested brain bank as per the instructions stated on the consent for autopsy form.
Please note:
  • Not all hospitals conduct brain autopsies, in which case the body may have to be transported to another institution where the procedure can be performed. In such circumstances, the attending pathologist at the receiving hospital must be notified of this request so that the appropriate procedure can be performed.
  • Half of the brain tissue will be retained by the hospital to confirm the neuropathological diagnosis. A report of the findings should be made available to the family via the physician who requested the autopsy. A copy should also be sent to the receiving brain bank for their confidential records.
  • In some provinces there is also a fee associated with brain autopsy. It is recommended that you consult your physician for these details.
  • In cases where the donor passes away at home or within a care residence, costs for autopsy will likely apply.

Funeral arrangements

It is important to mention that a brain autopsy does not interfere with the funeral service. There are generally no visible scars resulting from the procedure and the donor can have an open casket if preferred. A 24-hour delay should be expected.


Research contact:
[email protected]


Last Updated: 06/05/2020