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Science

UT Forms Committee to Investigate Missing Brains

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Adam Voorhes
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The University of Texas at Austin disposed of 100 brains donated from the Texas State Hospital. Now a committee will look into the decision-making process behind the disposal.

The University of Texas at Austin made international news in recent weeks over confusion about what happened to hundreds of donated human brains. Now the university is forming a special three-member committee to look into the case.

Last month, a KUT story highlighted the mystery of 100 missing brain specimens that had been donated from the Austin State Hospital, what they used to call the Texas State Lunatic Asylum.

UT started poking around and found that the brains had been disposed of a dozen years ago. They were in poor condition and of little to no value for research purposes, the university said. Now, the university is putting together a three-member Tissue Specimen Use Committee, led by R. Adron Harris, a professor of neuroscience and director of the Waggoner Center for Alcohol & Addiction Research. He is joined by Pamela Paxton, professor in the Department of Sociology and the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and John Kappelman, professor of anthropology at U.T. Austin. 

The committee will investigate how the decision was made to dispose of the specimens and how all of the specimens have been handled since they were donated by the Austin State Hospital in the 1980s. U.T. says the committee will also look into whether some of the brain specimens might have been sent to other institutions.

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