Monday, September 20, 2010

Carilion Research Institute Hires Top Man in Neuroimaging

Leading brain researcher P. Read Montague (right) will join the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute on Nov. 15, according to director Michael Friedlander. Montague will be a senior professor and will lead programs in human neuroimaging and the new field of computational psychiatry at the research institute.

He will be a professor of physics with an affiliation with the School of Biomedical Engineering and Science at Virginia Tech. Montague is the Brown Foundation Professor of Neuroscience and professor of psychiatry in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he founded the Human Neuroimaging Laboratory and the Computational Psychiatry Unit, the first of its kind in the world.

He is also an honorary professor at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London and was a member of the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study of Princeton, N.J., in 2005-06.

"The relocation of Dr. Montague and his research team and programs to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute is a major event in world neuroscience," says Friedlander. "Professor Montague has absolutely revolutionized our ability to measure the function of the brain of conscious humans in a series of conditions that have heretofore been beyond our reach."

Montague is organizing and will lead the Roanoke Brain Study, a cradle-to-grave effort at understanding the neural basis of human decision-making and its impact on health. Overall, he says he plans to integrate human neuroimaging research between the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and Virginia Tech.

"I am excited about the opportunities offered by the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and collaborations with the university, Carilion, and the community," said Montague. "My ambition is that the Roanoke Brain Study be the brain equivalent of the Framingham heart study--the 60-year long study hat has given us so much information about life style, medication, and heart health. The same thing has never been done with brain health, in particular for decision making--the decisions you make about what you eat, life-style, who you associate with, risks … have never been chronicled before. Roanoke is a good-sized place for that. It is big enough for diversity in brains and small enough for committed community engagement."

Montague will develop human neuroimaging studies of decision-making and social cognition throughout the lifespan under normal conditions and in a wide variety of neuropsychiatric disorders in children and adults.

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