MIDB Lobby

Institute for Brain Development Opening this November at the U of M

Located on East River Road, MIDB is a one-stop destination where diverse expertise comes together to accelerate discovery and improve brain health throughout life. Photo by the University of Minnesota.

Opening November 1, the new Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain (MIDB) brings together an unmatched depth and breadth of expertise focused on understanding how young brains develop and applies that knowledge during the periods when the biggest difference can be made. MIDB’s mission is to advance brain health from the earliest stages of development across the lifespan, and to support each person’s journey as a valued community member. 

“When MIDB opens, it will be home to University of Minnesota researchers, educators, M Health Fairview care providers, policy experts and community members who are working side by side to better understand how young brains develop and how we can pool resources, intellect, and our motivations to improve brain health across the lifespan for families right here in Minnesota,” said Damien Fair, Redleaf Endowed Director of MIDB and a professor at the U of M Medical School and College of Education and Human Development. “Our bold aspiration is that our curious, inspired, and strategic collaboration will allow us to better understand how to provide an optimal environment for all of our youth to maximize brain health so that every child is set up for success.”

As a land grant university, the mission of MIDB aims to: 

  • Lead in research and innovation to understand how the child’s rapidly developing brain grows and thrives.
  • Educate and provide opportunities for scholars across intersecting disciplines to maximize each individual’s brain health in early childhood and adolescence.
  • Collaborate and engage communities to quickly advance and apply findings to improve the health of local and global communities, working in partnership to ensure that social supports are available across the lifespan.
  • Merge research with M Health Fairview clinical care to improve patient and families' experiences.

“MIDB is unique in that it is not dedicated to any one neurobehavioral disorder as most other centers are, but instead seeks to discover basic processes by which the brain develops. Through that approach, we can understand the root causes of many neurobehavioral disorders that affect our state’s children,” said Michael Georgieff, co-director of MIDB, professor at the U of M Medical School and College of Education and Human Development, and a neonatologist at M Health Fairview Masonic Children's Hospital. “With support from our funders and collaborators, MIDB provides a one-stop setting for children and families by housing researchers, health care providers, educators and advocates together in one location where they can enhance each other’s knowledge with the goal of improving our children's future. We are excited for MIDB to open and support Minnesotans in a setting that is convenient, welcoming, and serene.”

Located on East River Road near the University’s Twin Cities campus, the 10.2-acre property includes a two-level building with a research center, clinic, and support area, as well as a community center and an attached parking lot. MIDB provides one location to connect world-renowned experts across the disciplines of neuroscience, brain imaging, bioengineering, genomics, pediatrics, psychology, psychiatry, disabilities, child health care policy and developmental brain health across the lifespan. It is a one-stop destination where diverse expertise comes together to accelerate discovery and improve brain health throughout life.

“We want MIDB to be a place where we think about how we can provide support to a child — whether it’s an infant or a 3-year-old we’re assessing for a developmental disability — and their family so that when this person is an adult, they have a great life,” said Institute on Community Integration director Amy Hewitt. ​​The Institute on Community Integration’s work in applied community research, tele-outreach, interdisciplinary training, and community outreach is a valuable asset for the MIDB.

Led by the University’s Medical School and College of Education and Human Development, MIDB aims to address access to care and the hurdles individuals and their families encounter when seeking medical, educational, and community-based resources and support. 

The development of MIDB, a first-of-its-kind institute in the country, was made possible by a $35 million naming gift from Minnesota Masonic Charities, $15 million from the Lynne & Andrew Redleaf Foundation (which also gave $6.5 million to related initiatives in psychiatry and child development), as well as generous investments by the Otto Bremer Trust, Blythe Brenden-Mann Foundation, and Drs. Gail A. Bernstein and Thomas J. Davis Trust.

“The Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain is another example of how we can unite the incredible expertise of the University with the capacity of Minnesota Masonry to benefit our entire state and, indeed, the world,” said Eric Neetenbeek, president and CEO of Minnesota Masonic Charities.

Housed in the Office of Academic Clinical Affairs, MIDB is an interdisciplinary institute that leads and brings together educators and researchers from across the University as well as M Health Fairview clinicians.

This story was originally published on Oct. 13, 2021 by the University of Minnesota.

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