As the nation honors its military this Memorial Day weekend, local brain scientists are asking the families of Puget Sound-area service members to consider one last contribution.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the local Veterans Affairs health-care system have begun collecting the donated brains of service members to examine for possible dementia and other disorders linked to repeated blast injury and head trauma.

It’s a fledgling program called the Pacific Northwest Brain Donor Network, an effort aimed at understanding the impact of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) on active-duty military members and veterans.

“We are going to study these brains to the full extent that we are capable,” said Dr. C. Dirk Keene, who leads the neuropathology core at UW Medicine. “They are so rare, so valuable and just so precious, and can give us so much information about what these exposures mean.”

Keene and his colleagues, including Dr. Elaine Peskind, who co-directs the Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers at VA Puget Sound, will be looking for signs that service members with mTBI also may have developed disorders including Alzheimer’s disease or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Read More- Seattle Times

Image: Cody Duran, who died in April at age 30, was not a veteran, but his mother believes his brain could help research. (Courtesy of the family)