The Institute for Mind and Biology (IMB) brings together faculty at the University of Chicago who study the mind and its dynamic interactions with the biological systems of the body. These interactions are studied in their behavioral and social contexts to further our understanding of psychology and identify the specific genetic, cellular and neural mechanisms that mediate the reciprocal interactions between the mind and biology. IMB faculty share a common approach that integrates biological and psychological sciences to reveal relations between mind, brain and body in both health and in disease.
The IMB faculty and their postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, undergraduate research assistants and research staff form a critical mass of scientists located in one building. The IMB provides a fertile environment for research by supporting shared facilities and also by maintaining an atmosphere designed to promote scientific exchange and collaboration.
The Institute for Mind and Biology at The University of Chicago supports scientific research answering fundamental questions about the mind and its dynamic interactions with the biological systems of the body. We study these interactions in their behavioral and social contexts to further our understanding of psychology and identify the specific cellular and genetic mechanisms that mediate the reciprocal interactions between the mind and biology. Our goal is to use biological and psychological sciences to study questions essential for understanding the relationships between the mind, the brain and the body, both in health and in disease. Our focus on reciprocal interactions between these levels of organization is the hallmark of Institute research. In addition to standard bottom-up approaches to understanding mechanism, we emphasize causation in the opposite direction, namely the causal effects of mental events and behavior on biological systems. Thereby, we seek to achieve a systematic and comprehensive understanding of the reciprocal interaction between biology and mind that includes our understanding of the neural mechanisms of behavior.
The Institute for Mind and Biology has its origins in the Center for Biological Approaches to Behavior, established in 1988. This Center supported seminars, colloquia, workshops and courses for the Department of Psychology and the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, the Committees on Evolutionary Biology and Neurobiology, and the former committees on Biopsychology and Human Development.
In the early 1990s the University sponsored an infrastructure proposal to the National Science Foundation and was awarded 2 million dollars towards the construction of a Biopsychological Sciences Building (BPSB) to be used by faculty in the Social and Biological Science Divisions. The BPSB was designed as a scientific instrument to facilitate the integration of social and psychological research with the state of the art in endocrinology, molecular genetics, systems neuroscience and immunology research. As a result of this national and institutional support The Institute for Mind and Biology was established in 1999, with Martha K. McClintock as the founding director. During the following decade, interest in the relationship between mind and biology increased dramatically.
The Institute now has faculty in several fields within the psychological and biological disciplines, and there are students from many departments represented by the diverse research projects within the IMB. Outside of departmental structures, the Institute is well-represented within the three Neuroscience and the Evolutionary Biology graduate training programs on campus, and the members are involved in leadership roles for many national and international organizations.