Overview

How do we know if our children are developing healthy mental lives? Imagine an opportunity to meet and engage with other scholars and researchers from across our campus to envision bold approaches to tackle this pressing health challenge.

This fall, the Research Development Office is hosting a virtual eight-week Neuroscience, Development, and Mental Well-Being Ideas Lab (two hours per week through September 20-November 8) where attendees will have a unique opportunity to explore this topic, develop innovative approaches to this complex problem together, and compete for feasibility funding. By leveraging the university’s unique research and scholarship expertise, you have an opportunity to make a significant contribution to this challenging topic. During our time together, we will draw from a diverse group of minds and disciplines to examine how we assess mental health in infancy through adolescence and connect it to physiological changes in the brain and body.

Background

How do we know if our children are developing healthy mental lives? The development of the human brain is a highly dynamic and prolonged process shaped by an interplay of genes and experience. 

Many would not dispute the importance of experience in developmental outcomes, but few would know when or how to change experience to change an outcome. If your toddler is throwing a fit, how do you know if it is ‘atypical’ or not?  We can step on a scale each morning to monitor our weight or put on a blood pressure monitor to track changes in our body over time.  How can we do this for our mental health?  Should we do this for mental health? Could we develop an objective, data-driven “mental health index” that would measure mental health across development?  What do we measure to comprise the mental health index?  Possibilities include behavior, cognition, brain structure, and brain function. This Ideas lab is focused on Neuroscience and Mental Health, seeking to understand how we assess mental health and connect it to physiological changes in the brain and body. We further focus on development from infancy through adolescence because of the importance of these periods in setting the stage for mental health across the lifespan.
 

Onramp Talks

Join us for two onramp talks to learn more about the Ideas Lab process and scientific focus of the Neuroscience, Development, and Mental Well-Being Ideas Lab. Drs. Ted Abel and Peggy Nopoulos will discuss this challenge’s current science followed by an opportunity for attendees to explore the topic, share their disciplinary interests, and begin brainstorming interdisciplinary solutions.

If interested in learning more and starting to think though this challenge with others, consider attending one or both onramp talks by clicking on the links below to register.

  • Friday, June 18 @ 12pm-1pm. Register here to receive the Zoom link.
  • Tuesday, July 6 @ 1pm-2pm. Register here to receive the Zoom link.

Ideas Lab Activities and Dates

The virtual Ideas Lab will take place over eight weeks with two-hour sessions each week. See the dates and times below. The Ideas Lab will consist of presentations, facilitated interdisciplinary conversations, ideation activities, team building, and iterative peer review of ideas concluding with a competitive feasibility grant program. Please note, participation requires committing to all eight sessions of the Ideas Lab.

  • Monday, Sept. 20 @ 2pm-4pm
  • Monday, Sept. 27 @ 2pm-4pm
  • Monday, Oct. 4 @ 1pm-3pm
  • Monday, Oct. 11 @ 2pm-4pm
  • Tuesday, Oct. 19 @ 2pm-4pm
  • Monday, Oct. 25 @ 2pm-4pm
  • Monday, Nov. 1 @ 1pm-3pm
  • Monday, Nov. 8 @ 2pm-4pm

Ideas Lab Fellows Competitive Feasibility Funding

To bring the Ideas Lab teams novel ideas to life, teams will be able to compete for $75,000 in funding to collect feasibility data for submission of external funding applications. It is anticipated that three awards will be made to Ideas Lab teams.

Eligibility Criteria

All UI personnel from any discipline who are faculty, research staff, postdocs, and advanced graduate students are eligible to apply. We are seeking representation from diverse disciplines, which will contribute to the creation of novel approaches to this challenge.

Complete the application here by Friday, July 16 to be considered for becoming a Neuroscience, Development, and Mental Well-Being Ideas Lab Fellow. Applicants will be notified by August 6th regarding their participation in the Ideas Lab. Please note, participation requires committing to all eight weeks of the Ideas Lab. 

The Ideas Lab

University of Iowa researchers have a special opportunity to help discover how to assess and measure the mental health of our children leading to new ways of intervening early.  An Ideas Lab, facilitated by Knowinnovation, will focus on innovative solutions to this complex problem. During this process, we will draw from a diverse group of minds across the array of disciplines at the UI to spend two hours a week for eight weeks examining the mental health of children from novel, creative, blended, and collaborative angles.

The goal is to bring together a multidisciplinary group to work together to bring fresh thinking to the problem, empower and embolden each other to think in new ways, and to craft a range of ideas that will have a practical input on improving mental health across the lifespan. Specifically, we are seeking to understand how we assess mental health and connect it to physiological changes in the brain and body by focusing on development from infancy through adolescence because of the importance of these periods in setting the stage for mental health across the lifespan. To generate radical new ideas, we need to broaden the range of people beyond just those who have traditionally thought about this problem. The output from our time together will be new, exciting, and possibly unorthodox ideas that can be developed, with the support of the Research Development Office, into grants for substantive investigation and action. We hope that ideas generated and lessons learned from this experience will play a constructive role in helping to alleviate the risk and burden of mental health across the lifespan.

Ideas Lab Mentors

The Ideas Lab is supported by a group of diverse “mentors”. Mentors are similar to peer reviewers, but with a more creative role: to connect and catalyze. Their job is to encourage new ideas by asking questions, highlighting ideas that seem exciting, and making connections between participants and to the wider body of knowledge. Ultimately, mentors work to provide objective advice and input to the participants. The Neuroscience, Development, and Mental Well-Being mentors are:

  • Ted Abel (Director, Iowa Neuroscience Institute; Professor, Neuroscience and Pharmacology)
  • Megan Foley Nicpon (Professor, Quantitative and Psychological Foundations)
  • Peggy Nopoulos (Professor, Psychiatry)
  • Milan Sonka (Director, Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging & Iowa Initiative for Artificial Intelligence; Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering)
  • Michelle Voss (Associate Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences)

Timeline

Activity

Date

Onramp Talk #1

June 18, 2021

Onramp Talk #2

July 6, 2021

Applications Due

July 16, 2021

Applicants Notified

August 6, 2021

Ideas Lab

September 20 - November 8, 2021

Fellows’ Feasibility Grants Due

December 3, 2021

Fellows’ Feasibility Grants awarded

January 4, 2022


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Britt Ryan in advance at 319-335-9575 or vpr-rdo@uiowa.edu