About Us


The center is supported by the CDC and sponsored by the American Association of Neuropathologists.

The National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center (NPDPSC) is the only Center of its kind in the U.S. We coordinate autopsies and neuropathologic examinations of suspected prion disease cases from across the country. Local autopsies are performed on-site, and other cases are performed elsewhere through a network of providers that the Center coordinates. 

The NPDPSC was originally established in 1997 in the "Division of Neuropathology" at Case Western Reserve University by Dr. Pierluigi Gambetti.

The NPDPSC coordinates autopsies and collects tissue samples and clinical information from cases of prion disease to assist the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in determining the disease's incidence and investigate possible cases in which these diseases have been acquired from other humans or animals (such as chronic wasting disease possibly transmitting from deer to humans). 

The Center operates the nation's clinical reference lab for prion disease and performs cerebrospinal fluid as well as genetic testing. Additionally, we offer a free-of-charge brain MRI consultation program.

Purposes of the Center

  • Because neuropathological examination is the only way to definitely diagnose and determine the etiology of prion disease, the NPDPSC acquires tissue samples and clinical information from as many cases of human prion disease that occur in the United States as possible to help monitor the incidence of human prion disease, decipher which cases may be due to an acquired etiology (e.g., variant of iatrogenic CJD). and to monitor for novel prion diseases (e.g., chronic wasting disease possibly transmitting to humans).
  • Help establish the diagnosis of prion disease by analyzing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), blood, and brain tissue obtained either at biopsy or autopsy.
  • Identify the precise type of prion disease (sporadic, genetic, or acquired) by examining histopatholgy, the prion protein type, and features of the prion protein gene.
  • Report findings to healthcare providers in a timely fashion.
  • Transfer the data obtained through our activities to the CDC and the State Public Health Departments in order to monitor the incidence of prion diseases in the USA and investigate possible cases in which the disease has been acquired from other humans or from animals.
  • Store tissues for future studies conducted at the NPDPSC as well as at other laboratories around the world.
  • Provide up-to-date information on human prion diseases to healthcare professionals and the public, including the importance of prion disease surveillance, types of prion disease, diagnostic investigations for prion disease, and reporting the number of cases evaluated by the center.