(July 11, 2019) … The University of Pittsburgh
Departments of Bioengineering and Psychiatry received a $1,107,386 T32 award
from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a unique multidisciplinary
program that prepares students with a background in engineering and other
quantitative sciences for careers in mental health research.
S. Ibrahim, PhD, associate professor of bioengineering, radiology,
and psychiatry, and Howard Aizenstein, MD, PhD, Charles F.
Reynolds III and Ellen G. Detlefsen Endowed Chair in Geriatric Psychiatry and
professor of bioengineering and clinical and translational science, are
co-principal investigators of the Bioengineering in Psychiatry Training
Predoctoral trainees in this program will
benefit from a dual mentorship with advisors from both the Swanson School of
Engineering and the School of Medicine. Their research will focus on
neuroimaging, neurostimulation, and neural engineering - all of which are
widely used in mental health research including mood disorder, anxiety
disorder, psychotic disorder, suicide, and cognitive impairment.
Aizenstein said, “There's been a huge increase
in the application of engineering and quantitative science within psychiatric
research. We're so excited to be part of training a new generation of
interdisciplinary scientists to help lead these efforts.”
“There has been significant growth in
neuroimaging research within bioengineering, especially with 7-Tesla human MRI,
and many of our studies are in collaboration with psychiatry,” said Ibrahim.
“This program will help formalize the connections that we’ve already
established between these two dynamic fields.”
With the addition of this program, the
Department of Bioengineering will administer a total of four T32 training grants.1 Each of these programs are collaborative efforts that utilize Pitt’s strengths
in medical research.
“The Department of Bioengineering has a rich
history of interdisciplinary research and education, capitalizing on the
strengths of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and other academic
departments at Pitt and our neighboring Carnegie Mellon University,” said Sanjeev
Shroff, PhD, Distinguished Professor and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair of
Bioengineering. “This training program reflects the strong partnership between
us and the Department of Psychiatry, which Tamer has helped reinforce with his
vibrant 7-Tesla human MRI research program.”
This is the first T32-funded program that
trains engineering students in psychiatry. It helps support the National
Institute of Mental Health’s initiative to develop computational approaches
that may provide novel ways to understand relationships among datasets and
further the understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of diseases.
“This T32 training program will address the
increasing need for engineering expertise in these key areas of mental health
research,” said David Lewis, MD, distinguished professor of
psychiatry and neuroscience and chair of psychiatry. Dr. Lewis is also the
Thomas Detre Professor of Academic Psychiatry.
The Bioengineering in Psychiatry Training
Program is slated to begin in July 2019.
“This effort is an example of the pioneering
and collaborative research between the Swanson School and the School of
Medicine,” said James R. Martin II,
PhD, US Steel Dean of Engineering. “I look forward to our continued
growth and leadership in this area.”
1 The Department of Bioengineering now administers a total of four T32 training grants: Bioengineering in Psychiatry (BiP), Biomechanics in Regenerative Medicine (BiRM), Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP), Cellular Approaches to Tissue Engineering and Regeneration (CATER).
Contact: Leah Russell