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COBRE at MRN Receives $15 Million Grant to Allow Continued Research on Mental Disorders


Vince Calhoun
Vince Calhoun


The Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) at the Mind Research Network, in partnership with the University of New Mexico, received a $15 million grant that will position New Mexico as one of the premier brain imaging sites while expanding research on psychosis and mood disorders. This is a second phase of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutional Development Award (IDeA) funding for the Multimodal Imaging of Neuropsychiatric Disorders (MIND) COBRE study.

Vince Calhoun, Executive Science Officer of The MRN and Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UNM, received the grant to continue studying schizophrenia and expand the research to include a wider range of disease categories to better understand the neural and genetic mechanisms of psychosis and mood disorders.

The new phase of the MIND COBRE involves researchers at MRN and the departments of Psychiatry, Neurosciences, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science at UNM. The grant will fund brain imaging studies of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression and also include the development of advanced image analysis algorithms and machine learning approaches.

“Receiving this grant is a testimony to MRN’s talent, resources, and interdisciplinary collaborations to better understand psychosis and mood disorders,” says Catalin Roman, Dean of the UNM School of Engineering. “MRN is already recognized internationally for neuroscience research and has made a significant positive economic impact in Albuquerque; this expands their scope.”




COBRE team
COBRE team


Currently the MRN houses extensive  neuroinformatics capabilities and cutting edge imaging technology including a 3 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imging (MRI) scanner, a Magnetoencephalography (MEG) system for non-invasive investigations of the brain’s magnetic fields, and a high density Electroencephalography (EEG) lab.

In addition to supporting four technology cores focused on 1) data acquisition, 2) algorithm development and analysis, 3) biostatistics and neuroinformatics, and 4) clinical assessment and training, the MIND COBRE includes five projects focusing on distinct, but related, aspects of psychosis and mood disorders. Two projects are algorithm focused; one on new approaches for combining complementary types of brain imaging data (e.g. structural and functional connectivity) and the other on brain imaging and genetics. A third project will study the overlap between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia using MEG and functional MRI. The final two projects will study the manifestation of auditory hallucinations and the potential to treat these hallucinations with brain stimulation and the effect of treatment for major depression disorder on the brain using multimodal imaging.





Schizophrenia patients who frequently hallucinate were given a brain scan and the team identified two key brain networks related to their hallucinations.
Schizophrenia patients who frequently hallucinate were given a brain scan and the team identified two key brain networks related to their hallucinations.


“The combination of state-of-the-art technology and tools to study the brain, interdisciplinary researchers from all over the world, and novel interventions (e.g. brain stimulation) to study schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression will lead to new advances in our understanding of these very serious mental illnesses,” says Calhoun. “The MIND COBRE will enable core New Mexico–based technology and expertise which will have wide applicability to brain imaging studies of the healthy and diseased brain.”

The Mind Research Network, which is located on the UNM campus, is a nonprofit neurodiscovery center founded in 1998 in Albuquerque by then U.S. Senator Pete Domenici. Today, MRN is a multi-million dollar facility with world–class recognition in the bioscience industry.

Story by Tamara Williams

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; kwent2@unm.edu






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