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Yale creates new Center for Brain & Mind Health

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Joy Lian, Staff Illustrator

Clinical and translational neuroscience research at Yale will now have a new home at the Center for Brain & Mind Health, or CBMH.

Spearheaded by the Yale School of Medicine, CBMH is led by a group of five co-directors whose work spans many different areas of clinical and translational neuroscience. The Center will focus on sponsoring public health oriented research, with the hopes of directly promoting better patient outcomes for conditions of the brain and mind through an emphasis on diagnosis, management and treatment of real patients. The center will also be working on different educational initiatives in their mission to improve brain and mind health among the public.

“We hope to facilitate investigation in the prevention, treatment and recovery of neurological and psychiatric conditions,” Kevin Sheth, co-director of CBMH, wrote. “We also envision active participation from faculty in all departments at the School of Medicine and at Schools around campus. Finally, what a great opportunity to collaborate with Yale Medicine and the Yale New Haven Health System. We have a real opportunity to meet patients where they are, to showcase and develop innovation as partners.”

The group of co-directors is composed of Eyiyemisi Damisah MED ’11, James McPartland, Christopher Pittenger ’94, Sheth and Serena Spudich. Sheth highlighted the importance of working together as a team and “bring[ing] the diversity of our individual experiences and backgrounds.”

The Center does not focus on any one illness or condition, but rather approaches brain and mind health as a cross-disciplinary issue.

“Depression and anxiety hamper productivity and health in almost every domain,” Sheth wrote. “Dementia and stroke are the leading causes of disability in our nation. Our goal is for Yale to play a leading role in finding the solutions to issues like these.”

The team was formed by Nancy Brown, dean of the Yale School of Medicine, with the hopes of discussing ways to strengthen Yale’s contribution to the fields of clinical and translational neuroscience research.

The directors have been working on bringing their vision for this center to life since early 2021, according to Pittenger.

“Over the course of 2021 we met with stakeholders throughout [the] community – both chairs and other leaders in relevant departments and centers, and many faculty working in the basic, translational and clinical neurosciences,” Pittenger wrote.

This vision for the University’s future in the field of neuroscience was discussed in more detail at a clinical translational neuroscience retreat held in November 2021. Over 150 members of Yale faculty and the Yale New Haven Health System attended the event.

“We had conversations with a large and diverse group of thought leaders spanning multiple schools at Yale and the health system and held a large retreat to discuss ideas and priorities,” McPartland, one of the co-directors of CBMH, explained.

CBMH plans to take an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to its research. Pittenger emphasized that there can often be a disconnect between basic science and clinical research, but CBMH aims to help bridge this gap by “facilitating the translation of new insights from the lab to the clinic (and vice versa).”

The directors of CBMH also hope to cultivate relationships outside of Yale with the VA Connecticut Healthcare System as well as the Connecticut Mental Health Center.

“Collaboration and inclusiveness are amongst the founding ideals, and the center will be nurturing new models of working together, all in the spirit of improving neurological and psychiatric health which are some of the most important areas in public health today,” Sheth said.

CBMH will be offering internal pilot grants to support research that encourages collaboration across different departments and disciplines at the University, emphasizing synergetic projects involving multiple principal investigators. The center will soon make announcements regarding post-doctoral positions and research grants that will be available for impactful clinical and translational neuroscience projects.

In addition to this, CBMH will also be leading educational initiatives in line with its goal to improve neurological and psychiatric health among the larger patient population. The Center hopes to see lectures, symposia, workshops and seminars in the near future.

The Yale School of Medicine was founded in 1810.

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