More female brain donors needed

In 2020 new donors are sought to address the gap between research into male and female brains, respectively. This is an initiative brought about by an alliance between researchers at the University of Glasgow and US charity PINK concussions. They are seeking to improve our understanding of brain injuries, including their links to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). They have developed the #PINKbrainpledge and are hoping to get many more female brains promised to the Glasgow Traumatic Brain Injury Archive, next year.

The disparity between male and female brain donors is not representative. Six in ten kidney donors are women, for instance. Women account for up to two thirds of organ donations. However, brain donations do not seem to be as forthcoming as those of other organs and there is a need for more tissue in general and for greater research into female brain injuries in particular. The emphasis in the past has been on male brain research and there have not been calls, as there are now, for more female brains to be given over to science.

Female footballers at greater risk

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have highlighted the need for further study on the impact of sporting injuries to the head, finding that former female footballers were 3.5 times more likely to die with neurodegenerative disease than their counterparts in the general public.

Brain donation is also useful for general research into neurological conditions such as dementia. Brains generally need to be harvested within 72 hours of death, and this is possibly a contributory factor in the lower-than-average-incidence of brain donations. In 2013, around 700 brains were stored in the UK.  In that same year, there were more than 1300 recorded organ donors in the country, almost twice that number. There is always a need for more organ donors for the sake of transplants. While brains are not currently needed for the same reason, it could be that they are not generally sought-after with the same tenacity, meaning people are less aware of the need for giving them.

Registering as an organ donor for the purposes of transplantation does not necessarily mean that your brain will be taken and stored for research. That is one reason why this new initiative is useful, in encouraging women to come forth and give their brains to the future of medical science.

For further authoritative information on neurosurgery - see Modern Neurosurgery Treatments.

Information on the work of the Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group, including how to register for brain donation is available at:

Women interested in participating in research brain donation are encouraged to take the PINK Concussions’ pledge #PINKBrainPledge. For more information on the #PINKBrainPledge visit

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