What makes a person bipolar, prone to manic highs and deep, depressed lows? Why does bipolar disorder run so strongly in families, even though no single gene is to blame?
Bipolar disorder affects millions of individuals across their lifespan and therefore must be studied longitudinally (over the course of decades). Bipolar disorder is known to run in families, but most genes involved have not yet been identified. Additionally, every individual’s response to the illness, life circumstances, and treatment can vary widely. Studying many individuals over time will allow scientists to better understand how to treat and, eventually, prevent bipolar disorder.
Thus far, 18 years of data from our Longitudinal Study are available for research to the scientific community. The Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder, which is the Prechter Program’s flagship project, has enrolled nearly 1,500 individuals. From these participants, billions of data points have been generated through biological samples (DNA), neuropsychological testing, clinical interviews, bi-monthly follow-ups, and innovative monitoring using mobile devices.
Participants collaborate with the research team in additional studies that have resulted in the acquisition of several big data sets in cell biology, sleep, nutrition, physiology, and genetics. Participants generously offer their personal time and information in the search for new treatment strategies.