Board of Regents give UI go-ahead for new Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation

In their meeting at the University of Northern Iowa on Thursday, the state Board of Regents approved a UI request for a new Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation to advance the quality of clinical care, research, and education in the field.


Wyatt Dlouhy

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld addresses the Board of Regents during a meeting at the Iowa State Alumni Center in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday, June 6, 2019.

Katie Ann McCarver, News Editor

CEDAR FALLS — The state Board of Regents approved a University of Iowa request for a Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation on Thursday, which will be sponsored by the Department of Psychiatry and the Iowa Neuroscience Institute.

According to regents’ documents, the UI already has prime facilities, equipment, and personnel with extensive expertise in noninvasive brain stimulation. The new center aims to integrate the missions of providing state-of-the-art clinical care, expanding biomedical research, and providing educational opportunities for clinicians and researchers.

“The purpose here is to continue promoting clinical care, clinical practice and research in relation to brain disorders with the purpose of gaining a better understanding of how the brain functions so that can help us to better improve treatment,” said UI Executive Vice President and Provost Montse Fuentes at the regents meeting Wednesday.

A more cohesive organizational structure and greater visibility will both align with pre-existing efforts to support the three missions through competitive grants, patient recruitment, and philanthropic support, according to the regents’ documents. The center will provide infrastructure for a combined clinical and translational research program.

The center will address noninvasive brain stimulation as it relates to treating major depression, developing treatments for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism, training medical and psychiatry students on transcranial brain stimulation, and more. A new philanthropy-supported fellowship program will launch in 2020, the documents read.

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In alignment with the UI Strategic Plan, the regents’ documents stress that noninvasive brain stimulation is inherently multidisciplinary, and the new center is anticipated to include traditional departments such as engineers, basic scientists, biostatisticians, imaging specialists, and more.

The Iowa Neuroscience Institute will be most directly impacted by the new center, according to the documents, and highlight university efforts to develop a quality clinical and translational research program.

“The University of Iowa is the only site in the state that has a combined clinical program and translational research program using noninvasive brain stimulation,” the documents read.

Fuentes added that the Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation will create opportunities for collaboration and partnerships across the state, including with the electrical and computer engineering department at Iowa State University.

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No additional facilities, equipment, or funds will be required. According to regents’ documents, the center will be supported monetarily by research, clinical earnings, and philanthropic support.

“This area of research has been recognized as a top priority by different federal agencies, including [the National Institute of Health],” Fuentes said, “and the University of Iowa is very well positioned to be successful with this initiative due to the strength that we already have in place as part of our neuroscience institute.”

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