The role of fMRI in drug development

Owen Carmichael, Adam J. Schwarz, Christopher H. Chatham, David Scott, Jessica A. Turner, Jaymin Upadhyay, Alexandre Coimbra, James A. Goodman, Richard Baumgartner, Brett A. English, John W. Apolzan, Preetham Shankapal, Keely R. Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been known for over a decade to have the potential to greatly enhance the process of developing novel therapeutic drugs for prevalent health conditions. However, the use of fMRI in drug development continues to be relatively limited because of a variety of technical, biological, and strategic barriers that continue to limit progress. Here, we briefly review the roles that fMRI can have in the drug development process and the requirements it must meet to be useful in this setting. We then provide an update on our current understanding of the strengths and limitations of fMRI as a tool for drug developers and recommend activities to enhance its utility. Brain fMRI has the potential to become a powerful tool for clinical trials but is currently underutilized. Here, we explain why and present a path forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDrug Discovery Today
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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