October 7, 2014

New Richard Tam Foundation gift will support bipolar disorder researchers at the University of Michigan

With the help of a $350,000 gift from the Richard Tam Foundation, the University of Michigan Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg and Family Depression Center will accelerate its mission to unravel the genesis, and therefore the treatment, of bipolar disease. This gift will help speed the translation of scientific advances into novel new therapies for adults living with this devastating disease.

Nearly 6 million adult Americans are affected by bipolar disorder. The disease is indiscriminate. Men and women are affected equally and it is found among all races, cultures and economic classes. According to the World Health Organization, bipolar disorder is the 6th leading cause of disability in the world and 1 in 5 of those afflicted will die from suicide. Yet, despite its prevalence and ravaging consequences, bipolar research is hugely underfunded and the disease remains largely misunderstood.

The Richard Tam Foundation is determined to change this. In collaboration with the Eisenberg Family Depression Center’s Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund, the Foundation is supporting researchers in using creative new approaches including induced pluripotent stem cell lines, or iPSC lines, to analyze bipolar disorders on a cellular and genetic level; thus making way for the development of personalized treatments. Melvin McInnis, M.D., the Thomas B. and Nancy Upjohn Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression at the U-M Medical School, the principal investigator of the Prechter Fund, and associate director of the U-M Eisenberg Family Depression Center, is confident that in the future someone with bipolar disorder – or any other medical disorder – will have his own stem cell lines available to model how his nervous system will react to a specific drug or treatment.

With visionary supporters like the Richard Tam Foundation, this era of personalized medicine will arrive sooner rather than later – allowing for the effective treatment, and ultimate prevention – of bipolar disorder!