Center for Comparative NeuroImaging (CCNI)
The CCNI was established in 2001 as a Center within the UMass Medical School and Department of Psychiatry to promote imaging research utilizing animal models to expand our understanding of brain changes accompanying the development and treatment of mental health disorders. Under the leadership of Jean King since 2007, the CCNI has shifted focus to translational studies with research focused on both animal models of mental health disorders and human imaging research. The CCNI is home to 9 faculty and staff including two new imaging researchers recruited over the past 3 years. The current research interests of the faculty at the CCNI include innovative multi-modal imaging methodologies, neural networks involved in mental health disorders (like addiction, depression and anxiety) and the potential usefulness of complimentary/alternative medicines (CAM) in altering cognitive and emotional networks.
• CCNI has very successful intra-departmental collaborations, including with Dr. Frazier and the CANDO/CANDI team including Dr. David Kennedy, a Professor and the Director of NeuroInformatics in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Kennedy is a physicist with extensive expertise in neuroimaging and neuroinformatics. The CCNI also collaborates with the Center for Mental Health Research (CMHSR- Dr. Carl Fulwiler) and BNRI researchers. Two grants (R21 and R34) cementing these collaborations are currently under review by NIH. We also anticipate sending out several papers within the next 12 months.
• Dr. King served as the primary mentor for Dr. Gina Vincent (from our CMHSR) on her K01 Career Development grant. This award serves as a rather unique bridge between Health Services Research, Child, and Neuroimaging.
• Researchers from the CCNI (and CANDI) published the first paper demonstrating the capability of imaging resting-state functional connectivity in awake animals by using functional magnetic resonance imaging: Zhang N (Corr Author), Rane P, Huang W, Liang Z, Kennedy D, Frazier, J, King J. (2010) Mapping Resting-State Brain Networks in Conscious Animals. Journal of Neuroscience Methods: 189(2): 186–196.
• Another High Impact project was published in the Journal of Neuroscience (Ling Z, King JA, Zhang, N (Corr Author). (2011): Uncovering Intrinsic Connectional Architecture of Functional Networks in Awake Rat Brain. The Journal of Neuroscience: 31(10):3776 –3783.). This article was posted on the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA Notes) – as a major discovery: “NIDA-funded researchers have made a first map of the intrinsic functional organization of the rat brain. Drs. Zhifeng Liang, Jean King, and Nanyin Zhang of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester surmounted a technical obstacle to imaging neural networks in rodents, and their findings pave the way for animal studies to shed light on the role of functional networks in human health and disease.”
• Dr Moore and colleagues recent publication in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (46:524–534,2007). measured glutamine and glutamate levels in the brain of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder (BPD). They found that the unmedicated children with BPD had significantly lower Glutamine levels than medicated subjects with BPD. The results of this study suggest that pediatric BPD, like adults BPD, is associated with glial abnormalities reflected in the lower glutamine levels.
• Dr. Moore was appointed the Associate Director of Translational Imaging in the CCNI in 2010. In her role as Associate Director she has expanded both clinical and basic research interests and collaborations across the UMass campus.
• Dr. Moore has been the lead faculty on a Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences aimed at better understanding imaging and its role in understanding the brain. “Brain Imaging” – is a 13 week course. The curriculum brought outside scholars to the UMMS campus and was inclusive of students from other departments
• Faculty have published more than 45 peer-reviewed research papers and developed novel technologies for imaging animals that were awake, performing data analysis (MIVA software), multi-modal imaging and performing “resting state functional connectivity “ without anesthesia.
• In 2012, Drs. King and Schahram Akbarian collaboration linking epigenetics and imaging was published in the journal Neuropharmacology.