Decades-old material now available for de novo research

Today, nearly half a century after the first brains were processed in the Rakic/Goldman-Rakic laboratories, these brain materials are still being used to generate data for publication. Notably, investigators from outside Yale have requested access to Collection 1 to analyze neurogenesis in other cell populations. These researchers have come from the University of Illinois, University of California, and as far away as the University of Sydney, to visit the Department of Neuroscience at Yale and analyze neurogenesis of brain structures, e.g., the basal forebrain, amygdala, and retina, that had not previously been examined by the Rakic laboratory. With the establishment of MacBrainResource, we intend to make Collection 1, along with the other four collections, more widely accessible to researchers not affiliated with Yale.

In recent years, Dr. Duque has utilized Collection 1 to compare neuron labeling with the thymidine analog BrdU in monkeys injected prenatally in recent years to those prenatally injected with [3H]-thymidine decades ago. He found substantial differences in the number and distribution of labeled cells, indicating that the random incorporation of BrdU into the genes of dividing cells makes the fate of postmitotic neurons more prone to unpredictable errors than the incorporation of the more natural DNA constituent nucleotide. Because the results of his work have wide implications for studies that use BrdU in cell- migration, placement, connectivity and survival they were highlighted by several journals and gave rise to an invited chapter in a technical book series. Importantly, Dr. Duque’s work, including current studies of subplate development, has utilized more than 40 cases from Collection 1 and illustrates how novel and noteworthy studies can be conducted using MacBrainResource.

Until now, the potential of Collections 2-5 have not been fully appreciated. Only one recent study by Dr. Selemon and colleagues has used a tract tracing case from Collection 2 to corroborate the findings from a new automated tract tracing method applied to diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data. These collections hold a wealth of unmined data for normative primate brain structure that has yet to be tapped, as well as data regarding the morphologic consequences of lesions and prenatal irradiation. We hope that by publicizing the availability of these brain collections they will be used for new research projects.