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Tissue application

The NBB has an open access policy and annually receives and reviews 100-150 requests from academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies from all over the world. The NBB follows standard procedures to ensure an effective organization of the tissue transfer process.

Preparing a tissue request

The NBB’s extensive stock of human CNS tissue samples are registered in a members-only online database: the e-NBB. New members can request an account and after approval they can search the collection and make and save a selection of brain samples.

If you need help in selecting samples, please contact Michiel Kooreman (technical coordinator). Discussion between applicants and the NBB is encouraged prior to submission of the application. The personnel of the NBB may be able to provide useful advice and expertise on the use of human tissue and tissue availability. Applicants may need to modify their application before submission, dependant on diagnosis, region and amount of tissue available.

Submission and review

You can request samples by completing one of the application forms below and sending it to eNBB@nin.knaw.nl, accompanied by the e-NBB sample selection (optional).

All applications are reviewed by the NBB’s scientific committee. The review process is based on the availability of the material (diagnosis and anatomical area) and scientific quality of the project. Within 6 weeks upon receipt of the application form, we aim to inform you whether your request can be approved.


The NBB requires a signed Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) to ensure that all conditions for the transfer and the use of the material are agreed upon by the receiving and providing parties. The MTA must be signed by an authorized representative of the university or institute in question. One master MTA per research institute (legal entity) covers all legal terms of delivery. Based on this MTA, all researchers in the research institute may apply for tissue.

After approval of an application, a Material Transfer Statement (MTS; a clear summary of the MTA), is sent to the researcher along with an Implementing Letter. This letter of approval specifies the material that will be supplied and the financial contribution. Upon receipt of the Implementing Letter and MTS, both signed by the applicant, the material will be supplied. The main applicant then also receives the extensive (anonymized) clinical and neuropathological information of the donors from which samples have been supplied. The clinical summary contains, among other data, the cause of death and the medical history (e.g. clinical course and medication use).


The transportation method depends on the storage type(s) of the selected tissue. Please note that frozen tissue samples are shipped on dry ice, which means that they are exposed to CO2, despite the fact that the samples are sealed in aluminum vials or plastic bags. This causes a temporary drop in pH, which results in changes to the properties of the proteins in the sample. Therefore, depending on the type of analysis to be performed on the sample, recipients may need to allow the samples to “normalize” after being removed from the shipment container. Murphy et al. (2013) describe two ways to do this: the first is allowing the samples to normalize in a freezer for 96 hours prior to performing the assay, to allow the CO2 to dissipate. If it is not possible to wait for 96 hours, a second solution is to remove the cap and vent the CO2 before thawing the sample. A summary of the article by Murphy et al. can be found here.

Brochure for tissue applicants

For more information on the tissue application procedure and material transfer proces, please read our brochure for tissue applicants.