National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium

Data Coordinating Center

Description of Resources


The NNTC was established in 1998 to facilitate access to antemortem and postmortem tissues and fluids (blood, cerebrospinal fluid) for the international neuroAIDS research community. The consortium's goals include the establishment of a network of brain banks, collection of nervous system tissues in a standardized fashion, and maximization of the information gleaned from the scientific studies of these tissues. In addition, a goal of the NNTC is to link the experimental and clinical data pertaining to each sample.

The NNTC clinical sites collect information on HIV disease severity, CNS and PNS signs and symptoms, comorbid conditions, laboratory values for a range of medical, immunological, and virological parameters, and tissue pathological diagnoses. Samples of plasma and CSF are collected from the participants followed longitudinally, and brain and other vital organs are obtained after death. The DCC of the NNTC is located at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE, with an additional contractor, the Emmes Corporation, located in Rockville, MD, tasked with providing specimen request and central data management functions. The DCC provides these and other support activities for the four clinical sites (University of California San Diego, University of California Los Angeles, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai New York, NY). The DCC maintains a centralized database containing clinical data and specimen information, including a public web presence, maintains quality assurance processes, and operates a secure web-access information for the sites and an internal communications platform. In addition data obtained by outside users of the NNTC (those that request specimens for research) transmit the data obtained to the DCC, which works with the investigators to properly curate and annotate the data and deposit it to an experimental database. In this manner NNTC validated data, along with the protocols on how data were obtained, as well as investigator-generated data, again along with the information on how data were obtained, can be made available to scientists in the research community, in addition to the specimens from the NNTC subjects. While the data are maintained centrally, the specimens reside at the four clinical sites, with an inventory maintained centrally in the DCC.


The CNS HIV Anti-Retroviral Therapy Effects Research (CHARTER) began in 2004 to explore the changing presentation of HIV neurological complications in the context of emerging antiviral treatments such as combination antiretroviral therapy. CHARTER’s study aims are to determine how central and peripheral nervous system complications of HIV are affected by different histories and regimens of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Many of the data metrics gathered are quite similar to the ones gathered by the NNTC, and biofluids (e.g. plasma and CSF, but not tissues) are similarly banked.

While the NNTC, by its nature as a brain bank, largely enrolls subjects with advanced disease or a risk of death from other conditions, the CHARTER study represents a broader range of participants. The CHARTER study was led by the University of California San Diego, with five additional sites participating (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, NY, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, University of Washington, Seattle, and Washington University, St. Louis, MO. Three of these sites are also NNTC sites. With the transition of the CHARTER study to an R01 mechanism in 2015, the data repository and responsibility for data and was transferred to the NNTC DCC, with the specimen repository sited at UCSD. Similar to the NNTC, the DCC is now collecting the experimental data from users of the CHARTER specimens, annotating and curating for use by scientists in the field.

The Global CERCH

The Global CSF Escape and Reservoir Consortium for HIV-1 (The Global CERCH) is a new NIMH-sponsored initiative to spur increased research and understanding of CSF escape and its implications in HIV reservoir establishment, viral suppression, and impact on the cure strategies. Our initial goals include procuring and curating data from across sites which will be useful in connection to CSF escape studies. We are seeking researchers and experts to contribute their relevant data, information on samples available for potential collaborative studies, and participation in on-line forums aimed at creating the above definitions in relation to HIV-1 and CSF escape.

With the creation of this portal it our aim to encourage collaboration as a means to better understand CSF escape and its implications in HIV reservoir establishment and viral suppression. By joining the Global HIV-1 CSF Escape Research Consortium you will be assisting in the creation of sustainable data accessible on a global platform and interacting with colleagues addressing this important issue. Please contact NNTC to join the consortium and/or request additional information.

Resource Access

NNTC clinical data:

CHARTER clinical data:

NNTC and CHARTER experimental data:

  • The NNTC-DCC Experimental Database summarizes experimental data generated by NNTC and CHARTER specimen requestors. At the conclusion of their work with their requested biospecimens, requestors are asked to share their raw data with the NNTC-DCC. More information about the raw data is available from the Experimental Data Resource
  • Browse the experimental data generated from NNTC and CHARTER biospecimens and tissues using the Experimental Data Query Tools