The Masonic Institute for Brain Development aims to bridge the gap between treatment, research, and community living.
The Masonic Institute for Brain Development (MIDB) at the University of Minnesota officially opened on Monday, making it one of the first centers in the country to bring together clinical services, research programs and programs. communities under one roof.
The collaborative model allows researchers, clinicians and community integration directors to work in the same environment. Previously, research centers or groups were located in different areas of the campus, which made it more difficult to collaborate on research and developments in clinical treatment.
By bringing these groups together under one roof, medical care for research subjects will become more accessible and create more opportunities for research in neurobehavioral disorders, according to Allison Hudson, clinical director at MIDB.
“We’re bringing clinical practices together in a clinical space that hasn’t always worked and practiced together in one place,” said Hudson. “It gives us the opportunity to create a complete model of care in a unique space for a patient.”
Led by the university’s medical school and college of education and human development, the center will aim to improve treatments and increase early diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders. Early intervention and treatment is essential for healthy brain development, as 80% of brain growth occurs before the age of three.
The institute brings together experts from 18 departments and eight colleges of the University to collaborate on research related to brain development in children and autism, as well as the clinical treatment of patients. The institute also includes several clinics focused on pediatrics and brain development as part of M Health Fairview, which will be accessible to people across the state of Minnesota.
Funded by Minnesota Masonic Charities and the Lynne & Andrew Redleaf Foundation, the institute is co-directed by university professors of pediatrics Michael Georgieff and Damien Fair.
“We have a lot to learn from each other,” Georgieff said. “Knowing one area can really reinforce the message that maybe another area is conveying. “
Reducing stress and creating supportive social environments are two important things that can help make a young person’s brain less vulnerable, Georgieff said. The MIDB design aligns with these key elements of brain development. Some of the intentional interior elements include textured wallpaper and each room is named after a different animal or species native to Minnesota to ensure a calming environment.
In addition to clinical care and research, the center will also be a meeting place for people from diverse backgrounds across Minnesota. There is space at MIDB for groups to meet and organize events, including conference rooms and a community center.
“We are very committed to centering the voice of the community,” said Anita Randolph, director of community engagement and education at the center. “I just want the community to know that we are here and that partnerships are available.”
Randolph works with over 200 community partners, including parent groups and school systems, to ensure the institute is a place that everyone can access. Randolph said she engages with outside bands doing everyday things like having coffee and attending community concerts.
“It allows me to really bond with them and really connect with real discussions,” Randolph said. “This is what these partnerships look like. It’s really, really trying to fill a gap.
MIDB differs from other institutions in its approach to connecting with groups across the state. While many clinical settings and universities select which groups can attend an institution, the MIDB has no limits on which groups it welcomes, Georgieff said.
“This is for all children with mental health, behavioral health and neurodevelopment issues,” said Hudson. “They are historically underserved and this is a statement we will serve well on.”