During the month of May, which was national mental health awareness month, we celebrated our donors with special silk scarves and ties. This initiative raised awareness of our research and funds to support it; and donors were happy to receive a beautiful 100% limited edition silk scarf or tie as a ‘thank you’ in the mail.
But it wasn’t just donors out in the community who took note – 20 Prechter Bipolar Research Fund staff members also made gifts to support our mission. Their donations totaled $1,465.00.
Says Marisa Kelly, Research Technician Associate:
“I made a donation to my place of work because I feel so inspired by the research team that I am fortunate enough to work with. The work that we do here has the potential to really make an impact on people’s lives for the better. I feel passionate about helping to be a part of the solution for those who struggle with bipolar disorder, as it is such a pervasive and often times invisible condition. I found the scarves/ties to be such a creative way to make mental illness a little more visible in the public eye. The pattern used is a brilliant combination of science and art and is a nice conversation starter. This rewarding experience has made me more likely to donate again in the future; it feels good to support a cause that I, myself, pour much passion and energy into. I found it important to support our research enterprise monetarily because I see every day how even a little bit has the potential to make a big difference.”
The images on these scarves and ties are the cells that are taken from research participants as part of our stem cell study. This study is using stem cells derived from simple human skin cells. In this exciting project, we take skin cell samples from adults both with and without bipolar disorder, turn them back to their embryonic state, and ultimately grow them into nerve cells that look and behave like brain cells. This allows us to understand — in a laboratory — how individuals might react to different treatments; it is truly the heart of "personalized medicine."
Over the years, many people have commented on how beautiful the cells look under the microscope. The images have been printed on to greeting cards and posters. We asked ourselves: Would this stem cell print not look breathtaking printed onto apparel? That’s how the idea was born to offer scarves and ties featuring the unique print in fresh spring colors.
Stay tuned to May 2016 when we will premiere another limited edition of silk scarves and ties in a different color scheme. You can again help us celebrate mental health month then by making a gift to support our research and receive another one of these beautiful accessories.