By El Gibson

ISUBI Opening

UNM Leaders to Celebrate Interdisciplinary Substance Use and Brain Injury Center Dedication

The University of New Mexico Interdisciplinary Substance Use and Brain Injury (ISUBI) Center will celebrate its grand opening Thursday, Feb. 16, with a ribbon cutting and a facility tour.

The building will house state-of-the art laboratories and clinical research testing spaces instrumental in the discovery of new treatment mechanisms and testing to ensure efficacy in real-world settings.

In addition, this facility will be a hub for UNM Health Sciences and Central Campus collaborations, including President Garnett S. Stokes’ Grand Challenges, National Institute of Health-funded Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence and other interdisciplinary initiatives.

“The ISUBI facility is an exciting addition to UNM’s research capabilities,” said Bill Shuttleworth, PhD, chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Neurosciences. “ISUBI will provide a home for collaborative, interdisciplinary research on a broad range of studies related to substance use and misuse, as well as studies of brain injury.”

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, New Mexico has had the nation’s highest alcohol mortality rate for decades, 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 injuries than the rest of the country.

The ISUBI facility is an exciting addition to UNM’s research capabilities. ISUBI will provide a home for collaborative, interdisciplinary research on a broad range of studies related to substance use and misuse, as well as studies of brain injury.

Bill Shuttleworth, PhD

The center, Shuttleworth says, “will benefit the health of New Mexicans, and also open doors for New Mexicans to work on these problems nationally.”

The building was designed to house research facilities for both brain injury and substance abuse – as the patient populations and research often tend to overlap.

“These are interrelated topics. People who work on one often work on the other,” Shuttleworth said. “Having a brain injury is a tough reset on your life and the adjustment is horrific and substance use is one way people cope with a devastating brain injury. But also, if people are impaired with substance use disorders, they’re more likely to sustain a brain injury.”

A goal of ISUBI is to also serve as a national resource, by providing access to researchers who do not have access to its unique collection of advanced core facilities, he said. This is good for national progress on these topics, and good for the state as it brings additional talent and collaboration to advance research work being done at UNM.

“We want to serve everyone at UNM as a core facility and attract studies regionally and nationally who would want to use the labs,” Shuttleworth said.

The two-story 15,700-square-foot facility was built as a new wing on the west side of Pete & Nancy Domenici Hall located at 1101 Yale Blvd. NE. It will house basic research facilities to enable state-of-the-art closed loop recording and stimulation of brain activity, advanced computational resources and simulated settings to test behavioral interventions.

According to project manager Ryan Reynolds, it took three years from grant application to project completion. Construction took 11 months to complete.

The first floor will have laboratories and imaging technology, while the second floor will house pediatric and family testing, intensive care data monitoring capablities and other research tools.

In addition, the upper floor provides for testing these treatments in patients, especially in simulations of real-world settings. Along with medical exam and testing rooms, specialized facilities include a simulated bar laboratory for alcohol use studies, an apartment laboratory for overnight monitoring studies and custom-designed and ventilated laboratories for studies of inhalational substances.

“It’s custom built for a more real-world translation. It’s fine if an intervention works in a really controlled setting, but what about when you enter the real world?” Shuttleworth said. “This is one step in between those two.”

Placing the ISUBI Center at the north end of the Health Sciences campus was intentional. The building is physically linked to other brain research programs within Domenici Hall, including advanced brain imaging conducted at the Mind Research Network, and UNM clinical and basic science research programs.

“The idea is to facilitate teamwork, which I think is great because ever since COVID-19, everyone has retreated to their silos,” Shuttleworth said. “This is a real deliberate attempt to stimulate a more interactive working environment.”

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.

The ribbon cutting will take place at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, followed by a facility tour led by Shuttleworth.

WHAT: ISUBI Grand Opening
WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m.
WHERE: 1101 Yale Blvd NE

Categories: Community Engagement, Health, News You Can Use