The Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute (MBNI)

MBNI is the evolution of the U-M Mental Health Research Institute (MHRI), which opened in 1955 as a Regentally defined and approved Institute.

MBNI has interdisciplinary faculty whose research interests include affective neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, developmental neurobiology, signaling, and neurogenetics/genomics. Together with their laboratory teams, they have made many important discoveries about how the brain functions, how its mechanisms are altered in people with mental illness, and how genes and molecules influence human behavior.

In FY2010, MBNI received nearly $12M in research awards, including nearly $7M from the National Institutes of Health.

At the time the original Mental Health Research Institute opened, psychiatrists and psychologists struggled to explain mental illnesses in scientific terms, and to provide treatment to those who faced them. The Michigan faculty had exceptional foresight at the time, recognizing mental illness as both an emotional and physical problem.

Raymond Waggoner, then chair of the U-M Department of Psychiatry, convinced the state of Michigan to provide the initial funding to establish the MHRI at the University, with the goal of conducting basic laboratory-based research on mental health. Waggoner charged the MHRI's interdisciplinary team with the mission of "applying scientific methods to the study of human behavior, normal and abnormal." At the time, it was unprecedented for geneticists, biochemists, anatomists, physiologists, pharmacologists, clinical investigators and psychologists to work together as a team.

Today, Dr. Waggoner's forward-looking approach has paid off, and in 2005, to celebrate its half-century anniversary, the Institute changed its name from MHRI to the Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute to better reflect modern science and perceptions about mental health.

MBNI continues to foster work on the cutting edge of brain science, to collaborate with clinical investigators in the Depression Center, the Department of Psychiatry, and other parts of the Health System, and train tomorrow's researchers to prepare them for decades of discovery.

Click here to visit the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute website.