The Synapse: Dec. 2022

Expanding MIDB's Range of Services and Community Outreach

Since MIDB's opening over a year ago, our overarching mission has been to serve as a model that promotes the advancement and interdependency of translational, integrative, and community work. The MIDB model establishes information channels between experts, incorporates feedback from the community about research, inclusion, and public health issues, and progresses basic science research discoveries into clinical care and vice versa.

In 2022, we have focused on engaging partners, expanding collaborations, funding new individual and team science research, and hosting conversations with community members and policymakers via our MIDB Service Hubs.

A few highlights from the past year include:

  • Our Service Hubs have fulfilled 70+ service engagements in 2022, representing a conversion of $500,000 seed investment into more than $2M value of services.
  • We have funded approximately $500,000 in MIDB seed grants to support graduate student training as well as translational and human research projects.
  • New MIDB members authored 500+ scientific presentations and were awarded 29 internal grants and 37 external grants totaling more than $50 million.
  • MIDB welcomed 17,000+ clinic visits, and we continue to expand.
  • We educated on the value of an interdisciplinary approach through our MIDB Colloquium Series, the Neuromodulation Hub's Digital Resource Library, and contributing to the training of MNLEND fellows.

New initiatives planned for 2023 include Research Seed Grants, Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards, and a Research Travel Award Program. Look for more information on these new activities soon.

Thank you for being part of MIDB and for your dedication to fostering the healthy brain function of children across the lifespan.

TMS robot synapse

"Botty McBotFace" is Winning Name of MIDB's Name the TMS Robot Contest

Botty McBotFace has been selected as the winning name for its Name the TMS Robot Contest. The TMS robot at MIDB is one of only a handful in the U.S. and 1 of 40 in the world. Taking inspiration from the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s annual “Name a Snowplow” contest, MIDB conducted the Name the TMS Robot contest and received dozens of name submissions. After a final round of voting, Botty McBotFace was selected as the winner. The name will be added to a plaque mounted on the robot which families will see as they come to MIDB and participate in groundbreaking research for years to come. Read more about the TMS robot.

large group gathered outdoors

Baby Siblings Research Consortium Held at MIDB

More than 40 researchers from across the U.S. and Canada attended the Baby Siblings Research Consortium (BSRC) meeting at the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain on Nov. 4. MIDB researcher and Institute of Child Development Associate Professor Jed Elison, PhD, hosted the meeting and highlighted how MIDB service hubs are supporting ongoing research at the University of Minnesota and beyond to identify children who are at highest likelihood of developing ASD. Other MIDB research shared at the meeting included testing the feasibility of a pre-symptomatic intervention for ASD presented by Jason Wolff, PhD, associate professor of educational psychology, and Jessica Simacek, PhD, research manager, Institute on Community Integration; and evaluating whether ASD screening and diagnostic tools are working comparably in boys and girls at high-likelihood of developing ASD presented by Casey Burrows, PhD, LP, assistant professor of pediatrics. Read more about the BRSC meeting.

Liberda family photo outdoors

FashionFest Draws Spotlight on Outpatient Care at MIDB

More than 700 guests came together to celebrate FashionFest, a night to sip, shop, and support M Health Fairview Masonic Children's Hospital. Community leaders, leading philanthropists, and partners, along with notable local celebrities, generated more than $725K towards critical mental health programming and services at Masonic Children's Hospital and created awareness for the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain. A key highlight was the showcase fashion designer, Jimmy Regan (Through Jimmy's Eyes). Jimmy is a former Masonic Children's Hospital patient, and Brian and Peggy Reagan, his parents, were founders of the original Autism Clinic at the U of M, which is now housed at the MIDB. Another highlight of the event was a video of the Liberda family sharing their story on how outpatient care at MIDB has helped their family.

Puzzle with human forms

Creativity and the Brain

Last summer, groups of local youths would meet at MIDB to make self-portraits with personalized puzzle pieces, learn to contra dance, write letters to the Mississippi River, work with clay, and hike through the woods to gather materials to make a communal forest. The kids, ages 12 to 17, all of whom had symptoms of depression, were participants in a two-week Creativity Camp that studied what happens in the brain when we engage in creative activities and whether those activities can affect depression. “When they experience depression, adolescents get stuck in a rut with their thinking and emotions. They have a hard time shifting out of that,” says Kathryn Cullen, MD associate professor and head of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the U of M Medical School. Cullen noticed that young people who don’t respond to conventional treatments for depression tend to lose hope. “They need something to inspire them,” she said. Read more about the Creativity Camp.

Journey artwork by Gregg Rochester

MIDB Artwork Spotlight: “Journey”

Created by Gregg Rochester, the 36" x 36" giclee print on canvas "Journey" was installed at MIDB earlier this year and is now part of our permanent art collection. “‘Journey” has been a favorite at MIDB. The placement of the piece is perfect, letting the pink, blues, and greens from the glass panels in the children's play area mimic the similar colors in the piece, while the rolling fields remind us of rural Minnesota,” said Nik Fernholz, chair of MIDB's Art Program Committee. “ When Gregg found out that children would be seeing the piece, he added the sheep at the last minute.” Read more about Rochester.



MIDB Co-Director Damien Fair received the Eva King Killiam Research Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. The award is presented annually to an early career researcher on the basis of outstanding translational research contributions to neuropsychopharmacology.

MIDB Co-Director Michael Georgieff, MD, has been elected to lifetime membership in the Academy for Excellence in Health Research. The academy serves as the highest recognition of excellence in health science research by a full time faculty member at the University of Minnesota. Georgieff was selected for having enhanced the reputation of the University of Minnesota through nationally and internationally recognized, sustained, quality health-related research in his field. He will receive the award at a ceremony in April 2023.

young patient smiling on stool with provider

Where Clinical Care and Research Collide: Tourette, OCD, and Anxiety Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program

Led by Christine Conelea and Tim Moore, our Tourette, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Anxiety Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Program offers psychotherapy using evidence-based treatments, including CBT, comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics, exposure and response prevention, acceptance and commitment therapy, and behavior therapy. The program serves youth ages 5-18 years seeking therapy for Tourette syndrome/tic disorders, OCD, and anxiety, often alongside commonly co-occurring psychiatric conditions. Learn more about our work in the Tourette, OCD, and Anxiety Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program.

icons of two groups of people

Are You Interested in MIDB Membership?

MIDB offers membership at the faculty, affiliate, postdoctoral, graduate student and staff levels. Members may participate in all MIDB events, and are invited to attend colloquia, participate in MIDB committee work, and may form collaborations with researchers across disciplines. Members are also eligible for MIDB seed grant funding and are welcome to apply to conduct research within the institute’s facilities. Learn more and apply.

Other News

Picture of two trainees
Nhi Lang, a second year medical student, received a University of Minnesota Foundation Medical Student Research Grant to work with  MIDB…
MIDB MRI room with Seascape imagery
MIDB is the first Minnesota facility to partner with RxART to enhance its physical environment through visual art.
Illustration of the thought processes in the brain
The new MIDB Precision Brain Atlas is an open resource of functional neural networks from over 9,900 individuals across ages and cohorts.