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Franco Alexander CMI

Alexandre R. Franco, PhD

Research Scientist, Center for Strategic Data Initiatives; Head of Data, Informatics and Sharing of Knowledge (DISK) Core
Child Mind Institute

Alexandre R. Franco, PhD, is a research scientist and head of the Data, Informatics and Sharing of Knowledge (DISK) initiative in the Center for Strategic Data Initiatives at the Child Mind Institute. With a strong signal processing and informatics background, Dr. Franco brings extensive knowledge of MRI image processing and analysis methods, data standardization, and sharing to support research initiatives across the Child Mind Institute research centers. Through functional and structural neuroimaging, he aims to create novel techniques to understand how mental illnesses affect neurodevelopment. He also assists clinical and neuroscience researchers with advanced computational and statistical methods.

Dr. Franco is also a research scientist and the director of the Computational Neuroimaging Laboratories at the Nathan Kline Institute (NKI) for Psychiatric Research. There he leads several neuroinformatics projects and serves as a co-Principal Investigator in developing and implementing a human 9.4T MRI scanner. The MRI scanner will be one of the most powerful imaging systems in the world for neuroscientists to study the human brain.

Dr. Franco was a pioneer in neuroimaging in southern Brazil, where he built a neuroinformatics laboratory. His lab was responsible for processing and analyzing the images of all MRI studies at the Brain Institute of Rio Grande do Sul. This generated a wide network of collaboration, which lead Dr. Franco to study a variety of neurological and psychiatric illnesses, including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dyslexia, microcephaly (caused by Zika virus), and ADHD, as well as conditions such as use of crack cocaine, excessive use of social media, biological effects on children in violent communities, and adolescent obesity.

Dr. Franco was also a pioneer in teaching researchers in Brazil how to conduct neuroimaging studies. He has led an annual hands-on fMRI course in Brazil, which is taught in partnership with the Child Mind Institute. He has mentored 12 graduate students and over 20 undergraduate students, all on projects focused on neuroimaging.

Past Experience

  • Associate Professor, School of Technology and School of Medicine, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Coordinator of Neuroinformatics and Image Post-Processing, Brain Institute of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil


  • Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, School of Medicine at Emory University
  • Research Assistant, The Mind Research Network, Albuquerque, New Mexico


  • PhD, Computer Engineering, University of New Mexico