Neuroimaging and Genetic Data Resources

image of brain and DNA strand with circuit board background

Big Data resources have become increasingly important to researchers in many fields. In the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and genetics, technological improvements have resulted in rich phenotyping, including brain imaging, of large epidemiologically informed samples. A University of Minnesota team led by MSI PIs Monica Luciana (professor, Psychology; project PI), Damien Fair (professor, Institute of Child Development; project co-PI), Scott Vrieze (associate professor, Psychology; project co-PI), and Kelvin Lim (professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; project co-PI) are developing a repository of some of these large datasets that will be accessible to U of M researchers. The project is called the Neuroimaging and Genetic Data Resources (NGDR) Initiative.

The initial plan for the NGDR Initiative is to include four datasets: the UK Biobank, the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study, the Human Connectome Project, and the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research. The project involves purchase and continued upgrade of hardware, plus the development of workflows. Use of MSI’s storage resources is a vital part of the project.

The NGDR was recently awarded a UMII Seed Grant. The Seed Grant program is intended to promote, catalyze, accelerate, and advance informatics research based at the University of Minnesota, so that U of M faculty and staff can successfully compete for longer-term external funding opportunities. This grant falls under the Discoveries and Treatments for Brain Conditions research area of the MnDRIVE initiative.

Professor Luciana uses MSI to support studies of brain development during adolescence and early adulthood. Professor Fair’s uses MSI for research into the mechanisms and principles that underlie the developing brain. Professor Vrieze uses bioinformatics tools available through MSI to conduct genetic association studies of genetic variants and addiction/mental illness outcomes. Professor Lim uses MSI resources to analyze neuroimaging data in several projects seeking to understand brain structure, connections, and function in brain disorders.

posted on December 14, 2021

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