ITR’s Dr. Gerry August part of UMN Grand Challenge-winning team

Dr. Gerry August, one of the Institute for Tranlsational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR)’s three core faculty members, was part of a cross-discipline team of researchers recently awarded one of the University of Minnesota’s coveted Grand Challenge grants.

The collaborative team of researchers — known as the Minnesota Precision Medicine Collaborative (MPMC) — will explore how new technologies can better tailor health care to the needs of individual patients. Applying precision-based health care techniques to address children’s mental health issues is one of Dr. August’s specialties; in October he directed the second-annual ITR symposium that focused on personalized, precision-based care.

The Grand Challenges research program is a key part of the University’s Strategic Plan vision to address critical challenges to Minnesota and the world. The University is investing $3.6 million to fund a slate of faculty research collaborations aimed at five research priorities:

  • Advancing health through tailored solutions
  • Feeding the world sustainably
  • Assuring clean water and sustainable ecosystems
  • Fostering just and equitable communities
  • Engaging individual and community capacity for a changing world.

ITR is committed to address the gap between research and practice in children’s mental health and uses an interdisciplinary, team-based setup to support researchers from many background and cultivates new ways of approaching problems.

From the project description:

Minnesota Precision Medicine Collaborative: Transforming health and advancing equity 

The Minnesota Precision Medicine Collaborative (MPMC) is a transformative initiative to use 21st century technologies – including genomics, informatics, bioengineering, analysis of environmental exposures, and behavioral sciences – to tailor health care to the challenges facing individuals and their communities. This ambitious approach will fundamentally alter our understanding of health, disease prevention, and treatment. Core to this project is partnering across the state of Minnesota with citizens, patients, and healthcare providers to understand and effectively address major health problems.

MPMC will create a living laboratory, starting with demonstration projects on Alzheimer’s disease, lung cancer, and depression. All three are diseases whose incidence, burden, and mortality rates reveal disturbing health disparities. This focus will enable us to leverage University of Minnesota research strengths across many disciplines and to engage with partners in the health industry and Minnesota’s underserved communities. Together we will create affordable, mobile tools to speed research, better deliver health information, and advance health for all. [Full description]

Read more about the Grand Challenges award winners here. Learn more about ITR’s work at