Loss of Almost 150 Brains Compromises Autism Research


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The Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center located at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. suffered a major freezer malfunction that thawed almost 150 of the approximately 3,000 brains stored in this facility. Of the brains that were lost due to the malfunction, 54 were specifically for autism research. According to the article in the NY Times, autism will be the most effected of the neurological disorders that are studied at this facility. Dr. Francine Benes, director of the brain bank, told Reuters “This is a significant loss, there’s no doubt about it. It will delay progress in the field of research.” The freezer malfunctioned even though there are two backup alarm systems (that also failed) that alert security staff of any sort of issue with the freezer. This is terrible news for the field of autism research. I can’t imagine the effort that goes into harvesting these samples for research.

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