Concept art of Interdisciplinary Substance Use and Brain Injury Center

Groundbreaking Set for UNM Interdisciplinary Substance Use and Brain Injury Center

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences will host a groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 7, for its new Interdisciplinary Substance Use and Brain Injury Center (ISUBI), which will enable advanced research into some of the state’s most persistent health care challenges.

New Mexico has had the nation’s highest alcohol mortality rate for nearly a quarter century, and it also has one of the highest rates unintentional overdose deaths, mainly due to prescription opioids, heroin, benzodiazepines, cocaine and methamphetamine. New Mexicans also suffer a much higher rate of traumatic brain injury than the country as a whole.

The two-story 15,700-square-foot facility will be based in a new wing on the west side of Domenici Hall on UNM’s North Campus. It will house basic research facilities to enable state-of-the-art closed-loop recording and stimulation of brain activity in both human and animal subjects, advanced computational resources and simulated settings to test behavioral interventions.

UNM President Garnett Stokes will be joined for the groundbreaking by members of the UNM Board of Regents and senior HSC leadership, including Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences and CEO of UNM Health, Ava Lovell, Senior Executive Officer for Finance & Administration (Health Sciences), Donald Godwin, PhD, Dean of the College of Pharmacy, Michael E. Richards, MD, MPA, Interim Dean of the School of Medicine, and Richard Larson, MD, PhD, Vice President for Research (Health Sciences).

Also on hand will be Bill Shuttleworth, PhD, chair of the Department of Neurosciences, who will serve as the project’s scientific lead, Michel Torbey, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology, and Andrew Carlson, MD, associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, who will co-lead the brain injury program, and Ludmila Bakhireva, MD, PhD, professor in the College of Pharmacy, who will lead the substance abuse initiative.

The project’s $12 million price tag includes a five-year, $4 million construction grant from the National Institutes of Health, and $8 million in UNM Health Sciences funding. Construction is due to be completed by the end of 2022.

The new facility is expected to play a key role in supporting President Stokes’s Substance Use Grand Challenge, as well as UNM’s Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence.

ISUBI will also serve as a regional and national hub for clinical trials, as well as a resource for colleagues in the Clinical and Translational Research Infrastructure Network and the Mountain West Consortium.

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