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OHSU receives more than $11 million to continue brain, cognitive development research

NIH expands, renews funding for ABCD, the nation’s largest long-term pediatric brain study
a closeup of a mri of a brain
(Getty Images)

With nearly $290 million of new funding for seven years to research institutions around the country, the National Institutes of Health has renewed its commitment to the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health ever conducted in the United States.

One of 21 ABCD research sites across the nation, Oregon Health & Science University has been granted more than $11 million to expand research efforts to better understand the association of adolescent experiences – such as sleep, screen time and substance abuse – and cognitive ability.

Led by a collaborative team of three principal investigators – Damien Fair, P.A.-C, Ph.D., Sarah Feldstein Ewing, Ph.D., and Bonnie Nagel, Ph.D. – OHSU’s ongoing work will utilize mental and physical health assessments, coupled with functional magnetic resonance imaging, to help inform prevention, treatment intervention, and public health strategies for mental health and substance use.

First launched in 2015, ABCD is currently following nearly 12,000 children – 582 recruited by OHSU – for at least 10 years, starting at ages 9 to 10.

Bonnie Nagel, Ph.D.
Bonnie Nagel, Ph.D.

“It has been fun to watch our participant cohort grow right along with our science over the past five years,” says Nagel, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine, and director of the Developmental Brain Imaging Laboratory at OHSU. “Now, as these kids enter their early teenage years, we find ourselves at a critical time in understanding how social and environmental factors may impact overall neurological development. This will be a key component to the next phase of ABCD data, and our ability to positively shape long-term health outcomes.”

Additional information about the ABCD Study, including data currently available and publications, may be found here.

This research is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The ABCD Study, like many other research projects, is adapting to the restrictions necessary to address COVID-19. Scientists will conduct virtual assessments as long as needed so that valuable data will not be lost, and participant health and safety will be ensured.

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