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University of Maryland School of Medicine Launches New Maryland Institute for Neuroscience Discovery (UM-MIND)

December 12, 2022 | Vanessa McMains

Dean Mark T. Gladwin, MDNew Institute Will Leverage UMSOM’s Nationally Renowned Neuroscientists to Focus on Fundamental Discovery, Ultimately Improving Patient Care in Neurological Disorders

University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) Dean Mark T. Gladwin, MD, has announced plans to launch a new neuroscience institute that will accelerate translational research of the brain by facilitating interaction between basic and clinical scientists and enhancing collaborative research across the UMSOM and University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) campus.

E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBAThe institute, called the University of Maryland-Medicine Institute for Neuroscience Discovery (UM-MIND), builds on the vision of former UMSOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who had championed the idea of a new brain research institute before stepping down as dean and returning to the UMSOM faculty in August. 

The Institute will recruit new talent to campus and leverage the more than 120 leading neuroscientists at UMSOM under one umbrella and elevate the prominence of UMSOM’s basic and clinical science research portfolio.

Urgent Need

“There is an urgent need to better understand how the brain develops and ages and responds to inflammation and traumatic injury,” said Dean Gladwin, who is also Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. “Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, for example, currently afflict more than 5 million Americans and represent one of our great generational challenges associated with the aging of the world’s populations.”

He added: “Our institution has tremendous strengths around neuroscience, with faculty scientists across our academic departments, center, institutes, and programs. Now is the ideal time to form a partnership across these entities in the study of brain science, with the goal of accelerating the discovery and translation of novel therapies and offer new hope for patients.”

Currently, UMSOM has more than $65 million in research funding for neuroscience research projects. Overall, UMB has some $107 million devoted to studies of the brain, although the research is spread out across several schools, centers, and departments.

Partnership & Collaboration

Margaret “Peg” McCarthy, PhD

Funds supporting UM-MIND  were provided through a partnership between Dean Gladwin and department chairs, including Victoria Marchese, PhD, PT, the Jane Kroh Satterfield Professor of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, Peter Crino, MD, PhD, Dr. Richard and Kathryn Taylor Endowed Professor and Chair of Neurology; Graeme Woodworth, MD, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, and Jill RachBeisel, MD, Dr. Irving J. Taylor Professor and Chair of Psychiatry.

“If we can create a cohesive structure and encourage multidisciplinary collaboration in this critical area of scientific research, with our depth and breadth of exceptional faculty, we have a tremendous opportunity to make a national and international impact, and to raise the bar of excellence to the next level, said Margaret McCarthy, PhD, The James & Carolyn Frenkil Endowed Dean’s Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at UMSOM, who has been named by Dean Gladwin as the Director of UM-MIND.

Graeme Woodworth, MDAdvances in brain imaging, neural network analyses, genetics, brain-computer interface technologies, and more are opening exciting opportunities to study and apply new information related to difficult-to-treat neurological conditions. For certain conditions like traumatic brain injury and glioblastoma, few if any major advances have occurred in the last two decades,” said Dr. Woodworth. “Now is an exciting time to merge the latest advances, coalescing inter-disciplinary neuroscience teams in UM-MIND, which will accelerate the discovery of novel therapies and offer new hope for patients.”

Collaboration and leadership of additional chairs and program directors at the UMSOM, all of whom are neuroscientists, were essential for forming UM-MIND including: Dr. McCarthy of Pharmacology, Elias Melhem, MD, Dean John M. Dennis Chair of Radiology; and Asaf Keller, PhD, the Dean Donald E. Wilson, MD, MACP, Professor and Chair of Anatomy and Neurobiology.

Asaf Keller, PhDUM-MIND will leverage partnerships with programs at neighboring institutions such as the U.S. Veteran’s Administration’s Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the University of Maryland College Park to further research collaboration and education opportunities in brain sciences.

Dr. Keller, commented, We have been working on several initiatives at UMSOM to build on our exceptional research and clinical strengths in multiple areas in neuroscience, including drug addiction, emotional disorders, and neuronal development. The Institute is a keystone of carrying out these initiatives and will serve to raise the bar of excellence and discovery.”

Three Pillars of Focus

UM-MIND will be divided into three pillars of focus: Brain Development, Aging and Cognition, and Brain Injury and Disease.

“In deciding on the three tracts, we looked at our existing strengths and limitations and looked to where the future of neuroscience is heading,” said Dr. McCarthy. “We have clear strengths in developmental biology, particularly when it comes to psychiatric disease, and we are strong in trauma and the brain tumor fields. In the field of aging and cognition for diseases like Alzheimer’s, we see great potential and importance in building this area.”

Jill RachBeisel, MDThe first pillar of Brain Development will address how the brain forms in the mother’s womb and how genetics, epigenetics, and sex and gender play a role in this development, as well as what happens when these processes go wrong and lead to neurodevelopment disorders such as autism or schizophrenia.

Dr. RachBeisel, remarked,With more than 53 million Americans, adults, and youths, experiencing mental illness and/or substance use disorders over the past year, understanding the causes and discovery of effective treatments is paramount to our nation’s health and future. UM-MIND, through a highly collaborative approach between neuroscience experts, will work to uncover the mysteries of such devasting illness and enhance a global understanding and approach to effective care and will create opportunities to enhance quality of life around the world.”

Victoria Marchese, PhD, PTThe second pillar of Aging and Cognition will concentrate on both healthy aging of the brain and neurodegenerative disorders of aging, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease which disrupt cognition and/or movement. This research pillar will encompass research on addiction, new fast-acting antidepressants, sleep, motor control, and neurodegenerative disorders.

Dr. Marchese, said, “UM-MIND is an exciting new initiative that will bridge collaborations and provide opportunities to advance research in exploring the brain’s motor mechanisms that contributes to movement dysfunction.”

Peter B. Crino, MD, PhDThe third pillar of Brain Injury and Disease encompasses brain cancers, such as neuroblastoma and glioblastoma, traumatic brain injury, and stroke research. These studies will focus on the early, severe inflammation right after injury and how long-term damage accrues after the shift to chronic inflammation.

Dr. Crino, added, "UM-MIND will greatly facilitate collaborative campus research in clinical and translational neurosciences, focusing on a number of devastating neurological disorders including stroke, dementia, autism, brain cancer, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy."

UM-MIND is committed to enhancing efforts at recruiting and training junior faculty from underrepresented groups in biomedical science and funds from the National Institute’s of Health FIRST grant will allow the institute to recruit additional faculty that can enhance research in key areas that are not currently well-represented.


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Vanessa McMains
Director, Media & Public Affairs
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Institute of Human Virology
Cell: 443-875-6099

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