Bernadette Gillick
February 24, 2017

"If you've seen someone with cerebral palsy, the primary diagnosis for that is stroke," said Gillick. She added that chronic pain, vision problems and intellectual challenges can also develop. Through the study, the hope is to find the best way to intervene.

"This could change an individual's function not only during infancy but for their whole life which means how employable are they, how independent can they be, how productive can they be, how much can they enjoy the quality of life throughout their lifetime?" Said Gillick.

This study is a one-time project and will run through the year. Researchers are looking for families to participate. For more information, click here.

Jed Elison and Jason Wolff
February 15, 2017

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers took brain scans at 6 months, 12 months and 24 months of children who were at high risk for autism because their older siblings had the disorder. They then identified the physical differences in the brains of children in that group who actually developed autism, and applied those findings to a second group of high-risk children.

Identifying those physical differences correctly predicted 80 percent of the children in the second high-risk group who met the clinical criteria for autism.

Dr. Kelvin Lim
February 8, 2017

80-90% of people recovering from addiction relapse. If we could predict which people recovering from addiction were most likely to relapse, efforts to prevent it could be more effectively directed. Psychiatry professor Kelvin Lim is out to make that possible.

January 6, 2017

Earlier detection can make a big difference for families, says Patricia Pacheco. “I think it’s just a great program because we have been able to track Michael’s progress from just 3 months old to know that so far he seems to be neurotypical.” Michael got another scan at 6 months and will go back at years 1 and 2. “They give us information as we go,” she says.

Dr. Suma Jacob
December 22, 2016

SPARK is the largest autism study in the United States, spanning 20 institutions. Last spring, UMN started gathering saliva samples from people with autism and their family members. Those DNA samples will eventually be compiled on an online registry with tens of thousands of others. Researchers hope the data can help them accelerate research to find causes and treatments for autism. 

"It is a study that's mostly focused on the genetics of autism," said Dr. Suma Jacob, UMN physician scientist and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Pediatrics. "One of the things that we learned is that... we need large, large numbers of participants to make sense of genetic risks or causal contributions to autism."

Dr. Kathryn Cullen
November 15, 2016

Cullen and her colleagues are launching a 5-year brain imaging study that will examine self-harm behavior among 152 adolescent girls, a subgroup that expresses this behavior more than other populations. These girls will have a range of NSSI symptoms, from non-existent to severe. In addition, the study will collect data on brain and other biological metrics over the course of three years.

The study will follow an emerging research paradigm in the psychiatry community called Research Domain Criteria Initiative, or RDoC for short. Unlike traditional psychiatry research, which has followed the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) criteria, Cullen’s RDoC research will try to link symptoms and behavior to biological metrics – things like neurocircuitry, hormones and other indicators.

Megan Gunnar
November 15, 2016

"Animal studies where we can experimentally control exposures to adversity demonstrate that the type of effects observed in this study are predictive of poor health later in development," Gunnar told Reuters Health by email. "It is not rocket science to know that children need safe places to live in order to grow into healthy and productive adults."

"Despite this, many of the children in these neighborhoods will be resilient," Gunnar said. "Identifying the protective factors that support that resilience and building on them, especially for children showing the effects of toxic exposures, is the appropriate response to the pediatric health issues revealed by this study."

Jed Elison and Jason Wolff
November 7, 2016

“We know from intervention studies that the earlier you intervene, the better the outcome,” says Jason Wolff, an assistant professor in educational psychology.

Wolff and colleagues like Jed Elison are detecting objective differences in the brains of children who have autism spectrum disorders as early as six months old.