Banking (on) the Brain: From Consent to Authorisation and the Transformative Potential of Solidarity

Shawn Harmon, Aisling McMahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Modern technologies and biomedicine ambitions have given rise to new models of medical research, including population biobanking. One example of biobanking is brain banking, which refers to the collection and storage of brain and spinal cord samples for research into neurological diseases. Obviously, brain banking involves taking brains and tissue from deceased people, a fact which complicates the role of recruiters and makes consent a poor tool for stakeholders. After contextualising brain banking and considering the public health issues at stake, this article explores the legal definitions and demands of, and actual processes around, consent in England/Wales/Northern Ireland and authorisation in Scotland, articulating and evaluating their conceptual and practical differences. It then argues for an expanded but improved operation of ‘authorisation’ in the brain banking (and broader biobanking) setting, adopting ‘solidarity’ as our foundation and the improvement of the ‘public good’ our objective.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberPMID: 24769808
Pages (from-to)572-605
JournalMedical Law Review
Issue number4
Early online date24 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Authorisation
  • Consent
  • Brain Banking
  • Posthumous Donation
  • Autonomy
  • Solidarity
  • Human Tissue


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