Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE)

Center for Neuromodulation (CCN)

A 2018 award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to Butler Hospital established the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) on Neuromodulation or CCN. The mission of Butler’s CCN is to support innovative clinical research in neuromodulation (brain stimulation) and the career development of investigators in this field. The work couples brain stimulation methods with readouts of brain activity (e.g., using various neuroimaging, behavioral, and physiological assessment methods) in clinical or clinically-relevant populations. The CCN provides a platform for exchange of scientific insights and technical skills and mentoring so project leaders can move towards scientific independence. A robust pilot project award program provides support for new proposals and scientists who stand to contribute to a sustainable pipeline of researchers in clinical neuromodulation. The CCN focuses on neuropsychiatric illness with the guiding principle that for noninvasive brain stimulation to gain clinical efficacy and implementation, it is imperative to better characterize clinically-relevant target circuits and mechanisms of action.

The CCN includes (1) a Design and Analysis Core (DAC) to support rigorous and innovative experimental design and data analytic strategies; (2) a Neuromodulation and Neuroimaging Core (NNC) to facilitate the acquisition and processing of high-quality data using noninvasive neurostimulation and neuroimaging methods; (3) an Administrative Core to oversee and coordinate activities to propel the development of investigators towards independence. The CCN will identify and promote the success of new neuromodulation scientists through the recruitment of new PLs and through its Pilot Project program, integrating the resources of the DAC and NNC.

CCN Project Leaders

Nicole C. McLaughlin, PhD

Project EPIC: Brain Circuitry of inhibitory control in young adults: Modulation with tDCS

Dr. McLaughlin is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a neuropsychologist at Butler Hospital. She completed a PhD in clinical psychology at Suffolk University and then postdoctoral training in neuropsychology at Brown University and Butler Hospital, where she directs its psychiatric neurosurgery program. 

Mascha van't Wout-Frank, PhD

Project RISE: Effects of tDCS timing on safety memory in PTSD

Dr. van’t Wout-Frank is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Alpert Medical School, Brown University. She completed a doctoral degree in the Netherlands - where she was born - in cognitive neuropsychiatry, focusing on emotion processing in schizophrenia and related disorders. Following her PhD, Dr. van’t Wout-Frank continued work on emotional and social cognition at the University of Arizona, and later Brown University, in postdoctoral research on decision making.

Sarah Garnaat, PhD

Project FLEX: Modulating prefrontal circuits underlying behavioral flexibility in OCD: a TMS study

Sarah Garnaat, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a Research Psychologist at Butler Hospital. A licensed clinical psychologist and clinical researcher, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Houston and a T32 postdoctoral fellowship in treatment research at Brown University. 

COBRE Center for Neuromodulation Leadership

The CCN Administrative Core, develops design/statistical, neuroimaging, and brain stimulation resources focusing particularly on COBRE projects and new pilot research. The CCN Administrative Core works closely with our partners. These include IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Centers and IDeA-Clinical and Translational (CTR) programs in Rhode Island, collaborating entities at/affiliated with Brown University including the Brown Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (DPHB), Carney Institute for Brain Science, COBRE Center for Central Nervous System Function (CCNSF), Advance Clinical and Translational Research (Advance-CTR) and the Providence VA Medical Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology (CfNN).

Benjamin D. Greenberg, MD, PhD


Dr. Benjamin Greenberg has a BA in psychology from Amherst College, a PhD in neurosciences from UC San Diego, and an MD from the University of Miami, with psychiatry residency at Johns Hopkins. He then led adult OCD research at NIMH, where he performed the first transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) study in that illness. 

Linda L. Carpenter, MD

Deputy Director

Linda L. Carpenter, MD is a Professor of Psychiatry in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Chief of the Mood Disorders Program at Butler Hospital. She completed her undergraduate psychology degree at the University of Michigan, her MD from the University of Pennsylvania. She did an internship in internal medicine, psychiatry residency training, and a clinical neuroscience research fellowship all at Yale University. 

Audrey Tyrka, MD, PhD

Associate Director

Dr. Tyrka received her MD and PhD in medicine and psychology through a combined program at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed a psychiatry residency at Brown Medical School and further research training in clinical neuroscience at the Mood Disorders Research Program and Laboratory for Clinical Neuroscience at Butler Hospital and Brown University. Dr. Tyrka is Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown.

Kristen Fortin-Ashburne, MBA

Center Administrator

Kristen Fortin-Ashburne obtained a BA in psychology (sociology minor) from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and MBA in Global Business Leadership (Organizational Leadership concentration) from Johnson & Wales University. She joined the CCN leadership team with over sixteen years’ experience in research, health care system administration, operations and project management. Prior to joining CCN, Ms. Fortin-Ashburne was Senior Clinical Research Technologist in Dr. Mary Carskadon’s E.P. Bradley Sleep Research Laboratory located on the Butler Hospital campus. 


Our Guiding Principles

Our guiding scientific principle is that for the promise of neuromodulation therapies to be fully realized, it is critical to better characterizing their target circuits and mechanisms of action.

Our guiding organizational principle is to create structures and governance to propel promising junior investigators in this field towards independent scientific careers. This involves the following aims:

Implement our management plan and mentorship program to expand the group of clinical-translational researchers doing therapeutically relevant and mechanistically informative neuromodulation research in Rhode Island. We have developed research core resources for the RI scientific community. one to support research design and later data analysis and interpretation, and another to acquire neuromodulation and neuroimaging data using best practices. The administrative core oversees fiscal management, fosters CCN cohesion, and evaluates the Center’s overall progress.

Hospital Advisory Committee

Steven Burke, MBA, CFO, Butler Hospital, Care New England
Mary Marran OT MBA, Chair, COO, Butler Hospital, Care New England
Steven Brown, ITILv3, IT Site Manager Academic and Research, Care NewEngland

Internal Advisory Committee

Guarav Choudhary MD, Providence VA Medical Center
John Davenport PhD, Brown University
James Padbury, MD, PhD, Women & Infants Hospital, Care New England
Lawrence Price MD, Brown University
Steve Rasmussen MD, Butler Hospital, Brown University

External Advisory Committee

Erika Forbes, Ph.D, University of Pittsburgh
Mark George, MD, Medical University of South Carolina
Stephan Taylor, MD, EAC Chair, University of Michigan
Eric Wassermann, MD, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

CCN Pilot Program

The COBRE Center for Neuromodulation aims to increase the quantity and quality of research in clinical neuromodulation (brain stimulation) in Rhode Island. One means of attaining this goal is identifying and nurturing talented young neuromodulation investigators or established investigators who want to create a new research line in the arena of neuromodulation. The Pilot Program supports the COBRE’s growth by encouraging additional scholarship in the COBREs thematic areas and developing potential new COBRE Project Leaders.

Our Center will award up to three pilot project awards annually, depending on available funding, for research related to Neuromodulation. Neuromodulation research encompasses the development of new brain stimulation targets, therapeutic interventions, or the use of neuromodulatory tools to otherwise understand and address neuropsychiatric disorders or their mechanisms. We aim to enable investigators to collect preliminary data in support of grant applications for independent external research funding, especially from the NIH. Pilot project leaders can take advantage of the COBRE CCN community to help guide their science and career development.

Pilot project leaders will have access to the COBRE’s three interdisciplinary cores. These cores will provide infrastructure, consultation, and additional support services to ensure the successful career development of the funded junior investigator and help them apply for external, independent funding. The three Cores include an Administrative Core, a Design and Analysis Core (DAC), and a Neuromodulation and Neuroimaging Core (NNC).

Program Requirements
  • Research must be thematically related to clinical Neuromodulation
  • The proposed pilot project should require funding for no more than 1 year
What you'll need before beginning the application process:
  • Structured, one-page overview of research aims, significance, and approach.
  • References.
  • NIH-formatted bio-sketch for each investigator and mentor.
  • Documentation of Other Support
To ensure the proposed research fits with the mission of the COBRE CCN, we encourage interested applicants to submit the above items to the CCN Administrator, Kristen Fortin-Ashburne at before beginning the application process. 

Neuromodulation and Neuroimaging Core (NNC)

The Neuromodulation and Neuroimaging Core (NNC) facilitates the research goals of COBRE Project Leaders and pilot grant investigators, and benefits the broader neuromodulation research community by providing expert support, training, assistance, and advice to its constituents in the practical aspects of implementation, data collection, and project management related to neuroimaging and neurostimulation methods. The NNC addresses a critical need, namely, to provide Project Leaders with unique resources, skills, and support for using the best methods and practices surrounding neuroimaging and neuromodulation in clinical europsychiatric populations. The NNC provides key services for research projects and creates an enduring resource that offers neuromodulation researchers a series of educational seminars, hands-on workshops, and customized training opportunities, high-level consultative and medical input, and use of a specialty research facility at Butler Hospital with lab space, equipment, and medical support.

Linda Carpenter, MD


Noah Philip, MD


Jerome Sanes, PhD

MRF Liaison

NNC Specific Aims

  1. Provide support, training and assistance to COBRE Project Leaders (PLs) and their teams to promote and facilitate the acquisition of high quality neuroimaging data.
  2. Provide support training and assistance to COBRE PLs and their teams to promote and facilitate the application of high quality neuromodulation.  
  3. Establish core resources with a trajectory toward self-sustaining and enduring status that will serve the larger neuromodulation research community in Rhode Island.

Design and Analysis Core

The Design and Analysis Core (DAC) provides experimental design, statistical support, and neuroimaging consultation services to COBRE Project Leaders and the broader scientific research community. DAC faculty are affiliated with the Quantitative Sciences Program (QSP) of the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology at Providence VA Medical Center. Core Leader Richard Jones, ScD is a psychiatric epidemiologist and methodologist and the director of the QSP. Core Co-Leader Jennifer Barredo, PhD is a neuroscientist with expertise in neuroimaging methodologies including advanced diffusion imaging, multimodal analysis, and machine learning. The DAC also maintains scientific computing resources and workflows available to COBRE project and pilot investigators, and sponsors educational seminars and workshops.

Rich Jones, Sc.D.


Jennifer Barredo, PhD


DAC Specific Aims

  1. Support CNN project leaders in the design and analysis of clinical translational research projects.
  2. Enhance and refine existing computing infrastructure, support clinical translational neuroscience research at Butler Hospital, coordinate and facilitate access to these resources in support of CCN projects and pilots. 
  3. Enhance clinical neuroscience research in the Rhode Island community by participating in a broad educational mission in clinical neurosciences. This is accomplished by sponsoring speakers, conducting workshops, providing 1:1 training opportunities for PLs and their staff and collaborators.

Quantitative Sciences Program of the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute


Research reported in this website was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Science of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM130452. If you have received funding, consultation, mentorship, research support services, materials, training, access to shared equipment and/or space from the COBRE Center for Neuromodulation Cores, please acknowledge the COBRE Center for Neuromodulation by using the following statement:

This work was facilitated by the {select Neuromodulation and Neuroimaging Core or Design and Analysis Core} of COBRE Center for Neuromodulation (P20GM130452).

Please also send the title of your presentation, and where and when you presented the work or the citation for your manuscript.

Brown University Carney Institute for Brain Science  

Brown University Advance Clinical Translational Research  

Providence VA Medical Center Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology (CfNN)  

Quantitative Sciences Program

This portion of our website is supported by the COBRE Center of Neuromodulation Funded by the National Institutes of Health grant number P20GM130452. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health

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