In 2009, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiated the Research Infrastructure Grand Opportunities (GO) program to support "high impact ideas that ... may lay the foundation for new fields of investigation." The program supports large-scale research projects that accelerate critical breakthroughs, cutting-edge technologies, and new approaches to multidisciplinary research.

The Center for Applied Genomics and the Brain Behavior Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania are jointly funded by this program. Our Grand Opportunities (GO) project has three primary directives:

  1. To gather behavioral data on 10,000 children and young adults by conducting a battery of cognitive tests, whose measures include attention, emotion, memory, mood, and sensory processing;
  2. To gather neuroimaging data on a subset of 1,000 children and young adults to measure areas in the brain involved in the carrying-out some of the behavioral tests described above; and
  3. To investigate gene networks involved in carrying-out the behavioral tests described above.

This multi-level approach should give us a better understanding of how behavioral, neural, and genetic systems interact, with the ultimate goal of providing immediate benefit for individuals affected by mental illnesses.

The CAG/ University of Pennsylvania GO grant initiative is the largest project ever funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).