U of M gets $35M gift to establish 1st-of-its-kind institute on childhood, adolescent brain development

The University of Minnesota announced Tuesday it has received a $35 million donation from the Minnesota Masonic Charities to establish a first-of-its-kind institute devoted to brain development during early childhood and adolescence.

The Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain will bring together teams of researchers and clinicians who study how the brain grows and develops during early childhood and adolescence to focus on the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, ADHD, cognitive delays, drug addiction and severe depression, the university said in a news release. 

“The institute’s mission commits the university’s world-leading expertise in neuroscience, imaging, child psychology, adolescent psychiatry, developmental disorders and related fields to study precisely how the healthy brain grows and what throws it off course,” the news release said. “With this knowledge, doctors and other mental health providers can get young brains back on track before early stressors—such as malnutrition, trauma and exposure to toxins—lead to lifelong complications that can have huge social and economic costs.”

The U of M Medical School and College of Education and Human Development will lead the institute, which will be located at the site of the former Shriners Healthcare for Children campus along East River Parkway in Minneapolis. 

The Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain is slated to open in fall 2021. When it opens, it will form a research triangle with M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and the U of M’s Biomedical Discovery District, according to the news release.