A recent article in Scientific American discusses the efforts of pathologists in Indiana (USA) to mine genetic and other information from a collection of autopsied brains stored in gelatinous celloidin. The brains are from the former pathology department of the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane, which collected them from patients autopsied between 1896 and 1938.
“There are probably a fair number of these collections around the country that grew out of state hospitals,” says John Allman, professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology. “It is an untapped resource. If it were carefully planned and reasonably funded, it could become quite a valuable thing.”