Brain Images from Patients with Schizophrenia will be Shared in First Nationwide Imaging Network

Schizophrenia Update, January 2003

Brain images from hundreds of people with schizophrenia at 10 research sites nationwide will be shared in a first-of-its-kind research project funded with $10.9 million from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a branch of the National Institutes of Health.

The project will create an extensive and unique database of brain information that is expected to expand our understanding of disabling brain illnesses such as schizophrenia and speed the development of new treatments.

The federal grant was awarded to the joint General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) of University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine). The GCRC will coordinate the nationwide effort to link and share vast amounts of computerized data from brain images of people who have schizophrenia. In addition, researchers participating in the project will create standardized, powerful discovery tools for future brain studies in large populations.

Although brain imaging technology has generated remarkable progress in understanding how mental and neurological diseases develop, it has been nearly impossible for one laboratory to share and compare findings with other labs. A lack of coordinated networks for sharing data, plus limitations in compatible computer hardware, software and imaging equipment, have isolated scientists, barring them from collaborative efforts that could provide the large database of brain images needed for a comprehensive look at brain dysfunction.

The newly funded project will utilize a nationally linked, high-speed computer network established by the Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN), a consortium of U.S. universities that received their initial funding from the NCRR in 2001. During the past year, BIRN has utilized the new Internet 2 network and broad-band networking technologies to link several sites in the United States. With this new technology, scientists will distribute and share brain imaging data, including high-resolution digital magnetic resonance images (MRI) of brain structure and function, advanced 3-D microscope images, and related genomic, structural and gene expression data.

Steven G. Potkin, M.D., UCI professor of psychiatry, will lead the new three-year investigation.

"This grant allows a diverse group of researchers across the country to develop new methods to combine unique brain imaging data obtained at different centers," Potkin said. "This grant will find new ways to conduct very large imaging experiments and ease the exchange of data among researchers, not just in schizophrenia but eventually in a whole range of brain disorders and other diseases."

Sites and investigators participating in the new study are UCI (led by Potkin), UCSD (led by Gregory Brown) UCLA (led by Arthur Toga), Stanford University (led by Gary Glover), University of New Mexico (led by John Lauriello), University of Minnesota (led by Kelvin Lim), Massachusetts General Hospital (led by Bruce Rosen) with Brigham and Women's Hospital (led by Ron Kikinis), Duke University (led by Gregory McCarthy), University of North Carolina (led by Jeffrey Lieberman) and University of Iowa (led by Daniel O'Leary).

More information on BIRN is available at, and FIRST BIRN at

October 29, 2002
Media Contacts:
Andrew Porterfield, UCI (949) 824-3969
Sue Pondrom, UCSD (619) 534-6163



   Copyright 1996-2006. All Rights Reserved.