National Disease Research Interchange Connects Human Tissue With Research Scientists

Kim Benjet Health Guide
  • Did you know that the human tissue left from routine plastic surgery, hip and knee replacements and ordinary child birth is useful to scientists studying numerous diseases from cancer to diabetes, glaucoma, Parkinson’s and HIV/AIDs? The fat removed during liposuction, the diseased organ removed in a transplant, the tumor removed during surgery – all would be medical waste, but instead can be donated for research purposes. 


    I had no idea until last night when I attended an event for NDRI, the National Disease Research Interchange. Founded in 1980 by Lee Ducat (one of the original founders of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), NDRI connects donated human tissue with research scientists who need it.

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    Animal models of research can only take science so far in discovering new treatments and potential cures, but human tissue allows biomedical researchers to see how disease and potential treatments truly work in the human body.  NDRI started 27 years ago in procuring pancreatic tissue for diabetes research, but now provides numerous other tissue samples to scientists.


    I have the organ donor box checked off on my driver’s license and I’ve always hoped if I met an untimely death my family would donate my organs to someone in need of a heart, kidney, liver, etc., but I never considered the impact to science that donations to research can have. 


    Now I know, and I welcome this new found knowledge.  NDRI materials include this very important sentence – “Most people think you can only donate tissue or organs to science after death, but the truth is that each of us has the power to impact science in our lifetime.”  Both healthy and diseased tissue is crucial for biomedical research.


    According to the NDRI website and other materials, donation to NDRI does not cost the donor or family anything.  By simply contacting NDRI when you have scheduled surgery, they will make the necessary arrangements.  See or call1-877-221-NDRI(6374).  Pass this information along!

Published On: May 16, 2007