Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder

The Largest Long-Term Research Study for Bipolar Disorder in the Nation

Neuro-psych testing as part of the Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder


The Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Project was established in 2001 and has since supported scientific investigators at many renowned institutions. In 2005, the Project helped launch the Prechter Bipolar Genetics Repository at the University of Michigan and with that its flagship study, the Prechter Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder, whose goal it is to identify potential illness patterns in bipolar disorder.

Why study bipolar disorder?
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.

What happens to study participants?
Investigators plan to monitor bipolar participants for ten years and beyond, after the initial research evaluation, using bi-monthly questionnaires, neuropsychological testing, and interviews performed at various time intervals. We will also take blood and saliva samples. Compensation is $100 for the first study visit, and up to $150 for each year following. All study visits currently take place at the University of Michigan Depression Center on Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Who can participate?
The Bipolar Research Team is seeking adults with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and without a history of schizophrenia. We also invite adults without bipolar disorder to be in our healthy comparison group.

What are the risks?
Risks are minimal; a member of our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the risks of participation. It is important to know that participating in research is completely voluntary and should you decide not to proceed, there will be no adverse consequences.

What are the benefits?
There are no direct tangible benefits other than financial compensation. However, many people feel a sense of satisfaction knowing they have contributed to the understanding of bipolar disorder and to our search for more effective treatments of this debilitating disease.

How do I get involved?
Contact our research team by phone or email. In order to determine your eligibility, we will conduct a 15 minute phone interview with you. Any information shared with our research staff will remain confidential.

This study has received approval from IRBMED: HUM00000606

To participate in our studies, please contact us at
877-864-3637 toll-free


The microbiome sub-study

Prechter Program Microbiome

We all have billions of microorganisms and microbes that live in our digestive system, called our microbiome. Some of these resident bugs are beneficial and some are not. The makeup of our microbiome reflects many things – like the foods we eat, the environment we live in, the drugs we take, and many factors we don’t even understand yet. It is becoming increasingly clear that our microbiome can influence mood state and potentially risk of psychiatric illness. Yet, this field is in its infancy and there is limited understanding of which microbes are important for mental health or how they influence psychiatric disorders.

We have a unique opportunity to study these issues in research subjects who comprise the Prechter Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder. The microbiome may be involved with both the physical and psychological components of bipolar disease burden. Bipolar individuals are at twice the risk of developing metabolic syndrome compared to the general population and, on average, have significantly higher  Body Mass Indexes (BMIs). Prior studies link the composition of the microbiome to obesity, and this may be a factor in bipolar illness-related obesity as well. Studies also suggest that the microbiome plays a role in mood and anxiety behavior.

The microbiome is a largely unexplored area as a diagnostic or prognostic tool for psychiatry disorders, even though there is emerging data highlighting its potential importance. However, nearly all of the work to date has focused on animal models, extrapolating to potential clinical applications in human psychiatric and neurological disorders. In this sub-study, via collection of fecal samples, we will survey the microbiome of well-characterized bipolar and control subjects to investigate potential differences associated with several factors, including severity of disease state, medication exposure, early life stress exposure, personality factors (e.g. neuroticism), and rapidity of mania/depression cycling.