Bipolar disorder runs in families — it is a complex genetic disorder in which the core feature is disturbance in mood ranging from extreme elation, or mania, to severe depression, usually accompanied by disturbances in thinking and behavior. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a chronic and devastating psychiatric illness. Its causes are not yet fully understood, but genetic factors are thought to play a large role.

The Prechter Program’s goals are to discover the fundamental biological changes that cause the illness and develop new interventions to treat and prevent bipolar disorder. Researchers do this through the study of the longitudinal course of the illness in people who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program has one of the nations’ largest databases for bipolar genetics. Investigators are working with research teams on specific studies to collect phenotypic information, or observable traits, and DNA samples from over 1,500 bipolar individuals and control participants. They are also collecting a depth of data and biological materials from the research participants who contribute the samples, including imaging data, electrophysiology, nutrition, stem cells, sleep, medication data, and speech data. Participants generously offer their personal time and information in the search for new treatment strategies.

The goal of our research is to provide confidential, coded DNA samples and clinical information to scientists worldwide to accelerate knowledge breakthroughs in the quest to attain “personalized medicine.”

"I participate in the Prechter research with the hope that one day we will find a way to make a simple diagnosis and create a successful treatment plan in a matter of weeks rather than years. By participating in these studies, it is my passion, hope and mission to help other people. I have been through a lot; I have been suicidal. I don’t want others to feel the way I’d felt."

— One of our dedicated research participants