November 15, 2021

Letter From The Director

Autumn - Winter 2021

Melvin McInnis, M.D., FRSPsych

Dear friends and colleagues, 

As the season changes and we reflect on the warmth of summer and the colors of autumn that we so appreciated, I am excited to reflect on the past accomplishments of the Prechter Program and provide insights on the innovative projects that the community of researchers, clinicians, and stakeholders in our program are working towards! 

The Heinz C Prechter Bipolar Research Program is a comprehensive and collaborative program at the University of Michigan with the mission to discover mechanisms that contribute to bipolar disorder, predict, and improve outcomes, and develop effective innovative treatments. With our collaborators here at the University of Michigan and nationwide, we are building a future where personalized and evidence-based treatments for bipolar disorder to enable every individual with the illness to lead a healthy and productive life.

The driving philosophy of the program is the study of the individual person and their experiences with bipolar and their outcomes. This includes detailed assessments of the symptoms of mania and depression over the course of time, as well as in-depth study of cognitive ability, personality attributes, sleep and circadian patterns, behaviors, personal experiences (trauma), and treatment outcomes. Our teams are incredibly productive and publish our findings in highly respected peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The flagship project of Prechter program is the Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder. This project began in 2005 and has engaged 1,360 individuals to date. We continue to recruit participants and currently focus on those with Bipolar I disorder, especially younger individuals experiencing their first episodes of mania. We are committed to diversity and are reaching out to our surrounding communities. There have been two primary thrusts of our research and include: 1) mechanisms - the search for the underlying mechanisms of disease using genetics and cell biology-focused research and 2) prediction – the search for predictive indicators or markers to help guide care and anticipate and prevent problems over time.

A key feature of the Prechter Program is our relationship with our participants. The longitudinal nature of our research connects us with the people providing us with information on their well-being and experiences with the illness. We listen and we learn from them, and the messages are very clear. The medical community can do better. Change and new ideas are needed at the interface between clinical care, research, and the community of people with bipolar.

A New Idea

There is an urgent need to accelerate the delivery of research findings more efficiently to health care clinics and a reciprocal need for the clinics to provide feedback information and data on clinical outcomes to researchers. The integration of clinical care and research is embraced by the budding academic discipline “Learning Health Science” that approaches problems with a learning cycle. The learning cycle increases communication between patients, family members, care providers, researchers and the community at large and focuses on specific problems, identifies potential solutions, and designs and implements actions to address the problem. We are all stakeholders in the process. There is excitement and buzz throughout our communities about the potential of this approach to improve the care for individuals with bipolar disorder and will keep you updated as we learn more!

As we enter the holiday season, we are thankful for the opportunity to continue our research. We are thankful for each of you as well. We wish you good health and a warm hearth this winter!

Thank you and stay connected!

Melvin McInnis, M.D.,FRCPsych






Dr. McInnis is the Principal Investigator and Scientific Director, Prechter Bipolar Research Program;
Thomas B. and Nancy Upjohn Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression;
Professor of Psychiatry;Associate Director, University of Michigan Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg and Family Depression Center