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Science Updates

Advancing the Science of the Developing Brain

Quarterly updates focusing on sharing information about the incredible research being conducted at the Child Mind Institute.

February 26, 2024

Welcome 2024! We’re a little over a month into the new year and the big news this winter is that the Child Mind Institute’s headquarters have moved to a new, larger midtown Manhattan location. Fueled by a number of new grants, the Science team has expanded tremendously over the past year, and this move gives us the opportunity to double our footprint. The new office space has been built out with many of our long-term goals in mind, and will greatly facilitate our teams’ continued work to develop future breakthroughs in pediatric mental health.

Once again, this quarter’s issue of Science Update highlights just a few of our more notable Child Mind Insititute Science programs, events, research, and findings from the past few months. But for readers in California and New York, be sure to check out our first two resources, as they are time sensitive and can make a difference for families in those communities right now. Our Youth Mental Health Academy is expanding to two new areas of California this year and is now accepting applications for the 2024-2025 program. Additionally, our Autism Center continues to offer New York families no-cost, research-related developmental evaluations!

Thank you for your ongoing interest in our work. I look forward to updating you again in a few months.

Michael Milham, MD, PhD
Vice President of Research
Youth Mental Health Academy Expanding and Forming Key Partnership

Youth Mental Health Academy Expanding and Forming Key Partnership

The Child Mind Institute Youth Mental Health Academy (YMHA) career development program, which launched in Los Angeles last year, is expanding into the San Francisco and San Diego metro areas for its 2024-2025 program. High school sophomores and juniors from structurally marginalized communities in the three metro areas are encouraged to get YMHA program details and apply by the March 15 deadline.

College and graduate students, or early-career professionals in health-related fields should check out the program’s paid mentorship opportunities too! With expansion comes a new partnership with Bring Change to Mind (BC2M), a national non-profit operating peer-led mental health clubs in high schools in 42 states across the US, including California. The partnership promises to support the expansion of both organizations, with BC2M California members being encouraged to apply for the YMHA, and the YMHA committing to opening 21 new BC2M clubs in Southern California.

Learn About the Partnership
Autism Center Receives Grant From Philadelphia Eagles Autism Foundation

Autism Center Receives Grant From Philadelphia Eagles Autism Foundation

Adriana Di Martino, MD, founding director of the Autism Center at the Child Mind Institute, has been awarded a $400k two-year pilot grant from the Philadelphia Eagles Autism Foundation. The project, “Delineating a path toward brain connectome biomarkers of treatment in autism,” will deliver social skills training to kids in 2nd to 3rd grade. It will also examine changes in behavior and the brain connectome post-intervention.

This will be the Child Mind Institute’s first clinical trial using neuroimaging as a measure of effectiveness. Part of the Eagles Autism Foundation’s mission is to, “support the highest quality and most impactful autism research.” The study was one of 14 research projects selected from a pool of 40 full proposals and 70 letters of intent by a panel of esteemed scientists in the field of autism research.

Read About Autism Center Work
Data Competition Produces More Than 38,000 Novel Ways to Detect Sleep

Data Competition Produces More Than 38,000 Novel Ways to Detect Sleep

Last Fall, September 5th – December 5th, two centers at the Child Mind Institute — the Center for Data Analytics, Innovation, and Rigor and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Global Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the Child Mind Institute — teamed up with collaborators at the National Institute of Mental Health to host a data science competition.

Competitors recruited through Kaggle, the world’s largest data science community, were challenged to detect sleep onset and wake using openly shared data from the Healthy Brain Network. Almost 2,500 community researchers from 87 countries responded to the call and produced 38,000+ novel approaches to solve our sleep challenge! As you may already know, the Child Mind Institute practices global open science as a means of accelerating discovery, and as the numbers from this event clearly demonstrate, it works! This effort represents a first step in a shift from reliance on self-reported sleep logs toward wrist-worn accelerometer data to monitor sleep. Scientists believe that this type of research will lead to a more accurate measurement of sleep, a better understanding of the relationship between sleep and mood or behavioral difficulties, and more targeted interventions and treatments.

Get Competition Details
Analysis and Paper Uncover Effects of Cocaine Use Disorder on the Brain

Analysis and Paper Uncover Effects of Cocaine Use Disorder on the Brain

Everybody knows that as you grow older, your body changes. Your brain changes too! Research has shown us that some things you do during your life will slow down this aging process, while others will accelerate it. It’s widely accepted that using drugs and alcohol – especially overusing them – accelerates aging throughout the body. But science is only beginning to understand how substance use and the disorders associated with it affect brain aging.

Recently, a team of international researchers, including Alexandre Franco, PhD and Nathalia Esper, PhD from the Child Mind Institute, conducted an analysis that advanced that understanding. They used neuroimaging data to compare the cortical thickness, or the thickness of the outermost layer of the brain, in 30-year-olds with cocaine use disorder (CUD) to that of non-using 30-year-olds and non-using 80-year-olds. This winter, the team of collaborators published an article on their findings, “The cortical thickness of tricenarian cocaine users assembles features of an octogenarian brain,” in the Journal of Neuroscience Research.

Find out about the Study

Additional Items of Interest

Youth Mental Health Academy (CALIFORNIA)

We are accepting applications for the 2024-2025 career development program for rising high school juniors and seniors from structurally marginalized California communities. Includes paid training, internships, and mentor support!

Autism Center: Research Lab (NYC)

No-cost comprehensive developmental evaluations for NYC-area toddlers ages 18–42 months with language, social, or behavior concerns. Get a report that can be used to secure services and accommodations!

Is Your Child's Development on Track?

As a parent, it sometimes can be difficult to know if your child’s behavior or social skills fall outside the norms. Our complete guide to developmental milestones can help you know when to seek help.

Learning How to Fail is a Key to Success

If you want to help your child succeed, first you have to help them fail. The ability to risk failure is essential to trying new things. And the ability to fail and keep trying is a key to achieving success.

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