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New Boys Town institute will revolutionize pediatric neuroscience research

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 7:54 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Boys Town National Research Hospital is setting the pace for top-notch pediatric neuroscience research and care with the opening of the new Institue of Human Neuroscience.

Inside the newly opened 15,000 square-foot facility, six labs are now in operation dedicated to pediatric neuro-imaging research. A team of researchers will study how children and teen’s brains develop.

“No other facility in the world has the concentration of resources that we have here, all under one roof, all accessible,” said Tony Wilson, Ph.D., the director of the institute.

The labs feature cutting-edge technology that will help researchers understand how the brain changes as kids move from childhood into young adulthood. They’ll also research the impact of traumatic experiences on brain development and the brain changes associated with the emergence of psychiatric conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, or schizophrenia.

“Currently we understand very little about how the brain changes from say 4 to 6 to 12 to 20 years old, and that’s a critical period of life because so many psychiatric disorders, neurological conditions develop over that time,” Wilson said.

The institute is also the only one in the world to house two next-generation MEG (magnetoencephalography) systems.

“It really makes us stand apart and have twice the discovery of other places that are working on the same problems we have.”

Wilson says pediatric neuroscience research is a huge endeavor across the country and that by better understanding what goes on inside the brain, doctors can better treat the conditions. He says psychiatric and neurological conditions in kids are the most costly.

“Children who develop conditions at birth or develop through young childhood, they carry those conditions with them throughout their life so having interventions that affect the core and trajectory of children’s development changes their life and the life of their family for decades to come.”

Upon its full completion in three to five years, the institute will house 10 labs total and have more than 100 researchers from around the world all under one roof.

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