About this track

The Brain and Body Donation Program (BBDP) is a longitudinal clinicopathological study of normal aging, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer and other age-related disorders (https://www.brainandbodydonationprogram.org).  One of the most important ways to learn about aging and the disorders of aging is to study brain and body tissue from both normal and affected people after they pass away. Of equal importance is to learn how well older individuals perform functions of daily living during life. The BBDP enrolls normal and affected older people from the greater Phoenix region, testing them annually in our Sun City clinic with physical, neurological and neuropsychological assessments, and then performs rapid autopsies at death, followed by comprehensive pathologist diagnostic examination of all tissue types. 

The BBDP research track offers opportunities to do research on common aging conditions.  This opportunity is led by scientists from the neuropathology research lab. The students will have a hands-on research experience with a better understanding of the application of human postmortem tissue to biomedical research.

Common research skills will be acquired such as processing of human postmortem tissue, tissue sectioning, histological staining for pathological analysis and diagnosis. Rotations at the BBDP will also give the students the opportunity to learn molecular techniques like DNA and RNA isolation and protein extraction. Cell culture procedures, such as growing, maintaining, and expanding fibroblast cells will also be part of the training track.

All scholars will be involved on a research project where they design, conduct experiments, collect, and analyze the data, and interpret the results. The scholars will be able to also observe standard motor, cognitive and psychological assessments regularly performed by physicians and experience the clinical environment and patient interaction. Once they successfully complete the training program, a scientific video and poster of their results will be presented at the Neuroscience Scholar Program culminating symposium.

Students should be working toward completion of a Bachelor’s degree in science, psychology, gerontology or related health profession.

Basic laboratory skills are preferred, including exposure to anatomical dissections of animals or human cadavers.

Applicants have the opportunity to rank interest in individual research areas on the Application Form.  Every effort will be made to match you to your preference, but it is not guaranteed. 

About the Banner Sun Health Research Institute

The Banner Sun Health Research Institute (BSHRI) offers compassionate, specialized neurology care and cutting-edge research opportunities for Alzheimer disease and related dementias, as well as movement disorders. The Cleo Roberts Memory and Movement Disorders Center provides comprehensive clinical services to the community of Sun City and beyond.

Our clinic is multidisciplinary and includes physicians, nurse practitioners, neuropsychologists and medical social workers supported by medical assistants and administrative staff.  Together, we evaluate, diagnose, treat and care for patients and families with neurodegenerative diseases of aging.  BSHRI also houses a robust Clinical Trials program, a Brain and Body Donation Program, and a healthy aging (“Longevity”) study, which allow us to offer cutting edge research opportunities to supplement clinical medical care.  Also available are community outreach programs such as Brain Health Check In, a community service that provides a free cognitive screening with individual recommendations for follow-up. 

Information required:

  • Education history (high school to graduate school)
  • Previous employment
  • Military service
  • Summary of past research experience
  • Personal statement
  • Contact information for faculty and professional references
  • GPA
  • Unofficial transcripts

Track 4: Brain and Body Donation Program

Location: Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Sun City, AZ

Please review the application before beginning.  Applications must be completed in one sitting. Please allow 30 – 60 minutes to complete.

Applications are closed