The Manhattan HIV Brain Bank (MHBB), member of the National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium (NNTC), is a research resource committed to providing scientists with densely annotated, high quality biospecimens in support of neuroAIDS and AIDS research. Located in New York City, it conducts a longitudinal, observational neurologic, neuropsychologic, and psychiatric study with individuals who agree to be organ donors upon demise. While harmonizing its assessments and activities with other members of the NNTC, MHBB retains important and unique characteristics. MHBB is a predominantly minority cohort with excellent representation of underserved populations, including African Americans and Latinos of Caribbean origin; approximately half of MHBB participants are women; and the population overall displays a high frequency of medical and psychosocial co-morbidities that contribute to nervous system dysfunction. The cohort also has excellent representation of individuals with long-term viral suppression, suited to the support of research into viral reservoirs. In providing its biospecimen and data resources, MHBB implements standard NNTC protocols to synchronize the type and quality of materials provided to researchers with other NNTC clinical sites. However, MHBB has also created a variety of customized resources to better serve its clients, inclusive of providing digital slides and viewing software to enhance case selection and analysis; obtaining fresh blood samples from the cohort for functional assays, which when coupled with MHBB's extensive nervous system characterization, provide a cost efficient mechanism to accomplish translational neuroAIDS research; and performing specialized tissue dissections to create unique collections like the Brain Arterial Remodeling Study. MHBB is committed to fostering young scientists embarking on careers in neuroAIDS research, with past support of an R25 mechanism, and plans to promote F- and K- type awards utilizing its resources in the next funding period. MHBB maintains high quality standards for the information it collects, with mature, databank-assisted protocols for quality assurance on the local level, use of monthly data reports and annual audits provided by the NNTC coordinating center, and participation in all NNTC subcommittees to assure compliance with standardized NNTC assessments. With a relatively small and dedicated staff, MHBB is able to rapidly adapt to NNTC initiatives, as its organizational structure and standard operating procedures result in frequent communication between all levels and domains of expertise. In addition, MHBB utilizes the talents and expanded expertise of its scientific advisor and multiple collaborators, who provide a robust translational science environment to enhance the study's operations.
Nervous system disorders are common in people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), despite the ability to control HIV replication with combined antiretroviral therapies. One barrier to understanding whether HIV establishes a reservoir in the nervous system, and what causes neurologic disease, is a paucity of well characterized brain tissues from PLWHA. The Manhattan HIV Brain Bank, member of the National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium, was created to provide just such a research resource. It conducts a longitudinal study of PLWHA who are willing to be organ donors for research upon demise, and has created a biorepository of well-characterized nervous system and systemic tissues to assist neuroAIDS and AIDS researchers in translational studies to help find better therapies for HIV and nervous system disorders.
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