The human mind is a marvel. When healthy, it possesses awe-inspiring capabilities; when besieged by disease or dysfunction, it can overshadow life with suffering. Though central to our every experience, the mind and its biological organ, the brain, are an intensively explored, but still poorly understood, frontier.
Johns Hopkins Initiative for Medical Innovation and NeuroDiscovery (Johns Hopkins iMIND)
is an academic initiative to address fundamental questions in brain science, in particular the major knowledge gap between basic neuroscience and patient care in clinical settings. To effectively address the gap and build a new conceptual framework for research, we need a cross-disciplinary approach that optimally employs and integrates a wide range of current and emerging technologies in conjunction with best expertise. Johns Hopkins iMIND, built in 2020, is designed to fill the unmet needs by providing a collaborative work arena for clinicians, clinical neuroscientists, basic neurobiologists, and data scientists together.
Biomedical research has typically focused on a single disease, such as schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, in reality, diseases are not entirely discrete; there is often overlap between them, both in symptoms and in the underlying mechanisms that drive them. Not only can a single mechanism, such as a gene or environmental factor, contribute to the development of more than one disease, but also, a particular disease manifestation, such as a behavior associated with a psychiatric disease, may be shared by patients who have very different diagnoses. This phenomenon, termed “pleiotropy,” has yet to be explored to inform research and discovery.
In contrast to the traditional, disease-specific research, Johns Hopkins iMIND will look across diagnoses, enlisting patients and scientists from different disciplines. Our radically different approach is designed to first, uncover biological mechanisms that are operative in multiple diseases. This broader exploration will likely identify a greater number of targets for intervention, and therapies developed to address a disease mechanism shared by multiple diseases may benefit patients across standard diagnostic categories. Thus, the Johns Hopkins iMIND approach will amplify the impact of research findings.
Johns Hopkins iMIND is a unity of independent investigators and clinicians from multiple departments and schools in the Johns Hopkins University and Hospital. We have two major projects: Conte Center and FEP (First Episode Psychosis) Coalition at the interlaboratory levels inside the Johns Hopkins iMIND, in parallel to many projects in each individual laboratory. Please visit the pages of Johns Hopkins iMIND investigators, Conte Center, and FEP Coalition.
We are highly enthusiastic to professional education and public outreach. We always welcome motivated postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows, graduate students, visiting scholars, and undergraduate students. Keeping close collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Mood Disorder Center, our initiative always stays a clinical frontline for brain disorders.
Let’s work together, share the excitement of coming across novel discoveries, and develop a brighter future.
Akira Sawa, M.D.
On behalf of Johns Hopkins iMIND