First-of-it-kind translational research building for mental health receives full funding


Patrick Jones


Yesterday, during a meeting of the Executive Appropriations Committee of the Utah State Legislature, lawmakers unanimously approved $90 million in funding for the Utah Translational Research Building at the University of Utah Huntsman Mental Health Institute.

“The Utah Translational Research Building is an incredible win for the people of Utah,” said Taylor Randall, Ph.D., President, University of Utah. “I thank the members of the Executive Appropriations Committee and the entire Utah State Legislature for continuing to prioritize mental health. This is an opportunity for us to provide the people of Utah with the best mental health care in the country and lead the nation in mental health research and treatment.”

The $90 million appropriated by the Utah State Legislature will be combined with $65 million in philanthropic dollars to create a public-private partnership. The funding was prioritized during a special session of the legislature in May as part of the $1.6 billion Utah accepted in COVID-19 relief funds. The Utah Translational Research Building will catapult Utah to the forefront of mental health research and care by creating a collaborative environment to solve mental health challenges, including the psychiatric and social factors created by COVID-19. Educators and researchers from universities and colleges across the state will use the facility and partner with HMHI on research, treatment, and training initiatives.

“This is a tremendous example of the power of the state and community partnership laying the foundation to transform mental health care for the people of Utah, said Mark Rapaport, M.D., CEO, Huntsman Mental Health Institute. “If we are going to tackle big problems like suicide, child mental health, and substance use, it will require bringing together teams of experts in basic science, translational science, law, technology, AI, and policy to solve these problems holistically. There is no other facility in the world that allows for this type of collaboration. We will now have the opportunity to do this in Utah.”

The Utah Translational Research Building will be used to carry out evidence-based research and improved mental health in the following areas:

  • Reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and the treatment of mental illness
  • Improve the mental health services available in rural parts of the state
  • Improve and expand children’s mental health, including reducing domestic violence and child abuse
  • Develop effective policy to prevent mental illness and substance use and effective treatments for mental illness and substance use
  • Expand efforts to prevent and reduce suicide
  • Improve understanding of mental health workforce needs

“Too many people in our state and across the country are suffering from poor mental health,” said David Huntsman, President, Huntsman Foundation. “We don’t need to see the statistics anymore because we see it every day in our own families, and we have too few answers. The Utah Translational Research Building is a huge step forward in finding solutions to the serious mental health challenges that impact all of us.”

The Utah Translational Research Building will also house a 7 Tesla MRI dedicated to brain research and innovative clinical interventions that will attract engineers, physicists, psychologists, and researchers from around the world.

The Utah Translational Research Building will be 185,000 square feet and include wet and dry lab space. It will be located behind the current Huntsman Mental Health Institute hospital in Research Park (formerly UNI). Construction will begin early 2022.

This press release was provided by the University of Utah Health.