Neural Development & Psychiatric Disorders

Jeremy McIntyre conducting research with colleagues in the lab

Developmental disorders such as autism contribute to intellectual and social disabilities for children and adults. UF researchers investigating the genetics, neural systems and molecular underpinnings of normal and disordered brain development are contributing new technologies to the armament of approaches for treating these and other mental disorders.


Developmental research at UF includes cellular and molecular studies of normal development, including investigation on sensory systems and underpinnings of neuromodulatory signaling. Central to these research programs is understanding the role of cilia in normal and disordered development. In addition UF researchers in this area are testing new translational approaches include the development of pharmacological, electrical and behavioral therapies to alter brain circuitry in ways that facilitate progress toward positive mental health outcomes. Despite the challenges of treating mental health and behavior, faculty and staff at UF — boosted by the MBI’s collaborative research environment and resources — are committed to developing the next generation of therapies.

Research highlights include:

  • Testing of new behavioral approaches to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • New brain stimulation protocols to treat depression
  • Development of drug therapies to treat symptoms of developmental disorders such as autism
  • Fundamental research on the mechanisms by which stress affects the brain and cardiovascular system

Affiliated UF Centers

Woman wearing a netting covering her hair to read electrical impulses from her brain to indicate fear

Center for OCD, Anxiety & Related Disorders (COARD)

Led by director Dr. Carol Mathews, COARD is driven by an interdisciplinary group of researchers and clinicians who conduct either clinical or translational research aimed at understanding and treating OCD and anxiety disorders. With much still to be learned regarding the environmental versus genetic effects on these disorders as well as understanding the relevant brain circuitry involved and reducing the negative stigma that often follows these patients, this center is poised to dramatically alter and improve therapies and treatments for these disorders.

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researchers in the lab