Today Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a $5.2 million National Institute of Mental Health grant to fund a collaboration between researchers at FIU and Tel Aviv University (TAU). The grant will test a novel treatment for child social anxiety disorder and has the potential to open new therapies to help children with this condition.
“This trip to Israel headed by Governor Ron DeSantis is key in helping us at FIU create and deepen important partnerships in a number of strategic areas,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, who is part of the Florida delegation visiting Israel this week. “At FIU, we look for partners interested in leveraging our respective strengths to break new scientific ground and bring economic activity to Florida and Miami-Dade County. Israel is entrepreneurial and ripe for this kind of collaboration.”
The National Institute of Mental Health study is headed by FIU Psychology Professor Jeremy Pettit and Yale Psychiatry Professor Wendy Silverman, in collaboration with Yair Bar-Haim from Tel Aviv University. Researchers at FIU’s Center for Children and Families and Yale’s Child Study Center will recruit 260 children 10 to 14 years old. Anxiety disorders are among the most common and impairing child mental health problems, affecting more than 10 percent of children. The project is expected to provide a new, effective treatment for the impacted population, by developing groundbreaking computer-based interventions.
“This study leverages our expertise in clinical trials for child anxiety at FIU and Yale with expertise in computer-based treatments at TAU,” said Pettit, who heads the Child Anxiety and Phobia Program in the FIU Center for Children and Families. “We are confident that combining our respective areas of expertise will result in a new and effective treatment for children who suffer from social anxiety disorder.”
While in Israel, President Rosenberg is also signing agreements with other partners to explore the possibility of collaboration between FIU and TAU in areas such as autism-related research and disaster and emergency management. FIU has unique and highly regarded programs in each of these areas: FIU Embrace and the Academy for International Disaster Preparedness.
During the visit to Israel, President Rosenberg also met with a group of FIU students who were on a birthright trip.