MHFV Blog - MIDB Five Things
When the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain opens this fall, it will be the first joint clinic and research facility of its kind in Minnesota. Because MIDB brings together experts from different areas, families can access comprehensive behavioral, developmental, and mental health care at one location.

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Five things to know about the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain

The Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain is a leading-edge clinic and research institute dedicated to healthy childhood brain and behavioral development. Here are five things to know ahead of its Nov. 1 opening.

  • July 15, 2021
  • By Staff Writer

The Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain (MIDB) represents a new model of care. Opening to patients on Nov. 1, the institute puts leading University of Minnesota researchers together with compassionate, comprehensive M Health Fairview care teams. Working side by side, they will translate the latest research-driven discoveries into new treatments and therapies to improve healthcare for children and families.

Early childhood and adolescence are critical times for brain health. A child’s nutrition, environment, and stress level can shape the brain’s structure and function, affecting them for their entire lives. At the same time, we are able to study and treat children at a younger age than ever before.

Reported childhood developmental and mental health concerns are increasing statewide, and new approaches are needed now more than ever. Together with the University of Minnesota, our MIDB mission is to advance brain health from the earliest stages of development into adulthood, supporting each person’s path to reaching their goals and being an active member of their community.

MIDB will be the first center of its kind in Minnesota. Here are five things you should know about the new institute before it opens for patients this fall.

We’re working together toward a common goal.


M Health Fairview and the University of Minnesota have a long history of bringing academic medicine and innovation directly to people and communities across the state. Many of our doctors are also faculty members and researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School, which means our patients have access to leading-edge studies and new treatments that may not be available anywhere else.

MIDB furthers this partnership with the university. The institute was jointly developed by M Health Fairview, the medical school, and the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. Clinical care, research, and advocacy will all happen under one roof at the institute, encouraging collaboration and fostering creative new solutions. Together, we’re focused on advancing the diagnosis and treatment of mental health and neurodevelopmental disorders for children everywhere, while promoting informed policy-making, advocacy, and community education.

Our team approach means comprehensive treatment and more accurate diagnoses for patients.

M Health Fairview will bring together many different experts at MIDB, including child and adolescent psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians, neuropsychologists, psychologists, and pediatric neurologists. As part of this transformation, we’re moving all or portions of the
M Health Fairview Pediatric Specialty Clinic – Voyager and our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Follow-Up Program to MIDB. We are also moving our child and adolescent psychiatry clinic from M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital to MIDB. The institute will be located at 2025 E. East River Parkway in Minneapolis, just south of the university.

“We’ll be able to offer interdisciplinary evaluations. This will make it easier for families to figure out if there are multiple conditions that need support,” said Allison Hudson, clinic manager at MIDB when it opens.

Many conditions share symptoms, and patients may end up having multiple diagnoses. Identifying all the puzzle pieces early and accurately is key. Having different specialties working side-by-side means all patients will have access to convenient, comprehensive care, whether we’re helping manage one condition or several. Families will be able to schedule multiple appointments with different experts on the same day. 

Our research and clinical care respond to pressing needs and shape new therapies.

Increased awareness and decreased stigma have helped doctors get better at diagnosing patients with conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As more children and their families seek treatment for these conditions, healthcare providers must find new ways to accommodate growing demand nationwide while providing therapies with lasting results.

“We’re looking to integrate evidence-based programs into early intervention, including through virtual care. We can use telemedicine as a bridge before and between visits, working with children and supporting their families,” said M Health Fairview Psychologist Amy Esler, PhD, LP. “When it comes to ASD, we’ve seen that white children are typically diagnosed earlier than Black children, Hispanic children, and other diverse groups. We want to make sure our clinic is equitably accessible, which has led us to also reevaluate intake procedures.”

Patients at the clinic can choose to participate in leading-edge studies, conveniently housed in the same building. In turn, increasing visibility and enrollment for this research will help accelerate the search for more effective treatments.

Our facility is designed with families and children in mind.

Located in the former Shriners Hospital for Children, the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain is designed to be a child- and family-friendly space.

“There are different areas throughout the institute for children to play, or spend time outside in between consultations,” said Beth Heinz, executive for M Health Fairview’s Mental Health and Addiction, and Women’s and Children’s service lines. “Mental health experts worked with the designers to make sure the space felt calming. For patients receiving psychiatric care, details like wall color and lighting are incredibly important.”

Outdoor spaces will include a playground and access to nearby walking paths. Indoors, the natural beauty of the nearby Mississippi River will inspire murals, designed to be playful and welcoming for kids and their families. Many of the murals and family-friendly areas through the institute will be donor funded. In fact, development of the 116,000-square-foot space was first facilitated by a $35 million commitment from Minnesota Masonic Charities. The institute is backed by an additional $21 million gift from the Lynne and Andrew Redleaf Foundation. Many other donors have or are planning to contribute as well.

Our institute has the power to positively affect all Minnesota families.

As a partnership between M Health Fairview and the University of Minnesota, MIDB will be uniquely able to train the next generation of behavioral, developmental, and mental health experts in Minnesota. Residents, fellows, and students training at the institute will learn the latest, evidence-based treatments in fields from neurology to social work to nursing.

We are committed to working with our community, in order to create lasting change within our community. To do so, we’re partnering directly with our patients and their families to shape our research and care. For example, Esler and her team at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) share their research into ASD prevalence regularly with a group of community advisors, to find out how new data can positively affect their day-to-day lives. ICI works with policymakers, educators, employers and others to improve quality of life for all people with disabilities or educational support needs. It will also be housed at MIDB when the new facility opens. Heinz also hopes that the new institute will continue to decrease stigma around mental illness – encouraging people to get care when they need it.

“We hope that MIDB increases awareness around developmental, behavioral, and emotional concerns,” she said. “We want children and families to know that there’s courage in seeking treatment.”