Brains Thaw After Freezer Fails

Incident May Call More Attention to Freezer Safety and Alarm Systems


One of the 24 freezers used by the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., has failed without triggering appropriate alarms, leaving 147 brains stored for research on autism, psychiatric disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease to thaw.

The thawed brains included 54 from people with autism - about one-third of the Center's total collection on the neurodevelopmental disorder - which could set back research on the condition.

Courtesy NIH

The circumstances of the freezer's failure has left some suspicion of foul play. A decision on whether to ask law enforcement officials to investigate will be based on the completion of an internal investigation, said Dr. Francine Benes, the Center's director.

Read the news story at the Boston Globe: Freezer Failure.

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