A gift of $1 million dollars from Raymond and Jane Cracchiolo to the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program will aid our researchers' efforts to study bipolar disorder and provide hope to the many people living with it worldwide. In particular, the gift will be instrumental in launching the Bipolar Learning Community, an innovative cross-campus collaboration to implement a learning health approach to the research and care of people affected by bipolar disorder. A key element of the learning health approach is the learning cycle which engages community stakeholders in setting treatment priorities and provides enhanced communication between patient, family, researcher, and provider. This learning cycle leads to more efficient ways to translate knowledge from research into practice, speeding the use of new discoveries in the clinic. The Prechter Program has partnered with the University of Michigan Learning Health Sciences to create the Bipolar Learning Community, with an initial focus on the care of individuals after a hospitalization for a manic episode.
Bipolar disorder impacts millions of people around the world and touches all races, genders, cultures, and economic classes. In the U.S., 2.8% of the population lives with bipolar disorder. Yet, despite its prevalence and the impact this illness has on individuals and families, bipolar disorder research is notably underfunded, and the condition remains largely misunderstood.
Regarding the need for research, Melvin McInnis, M.D., director of the Prechter Program, said:
“The experience of languishing is very common after hospitalization for a manic episode. Even though the symptoms and behaviors associated with the manic phase have been successfully treated, around two-thirds of individuals recovering from a mania experience major difficulties getting their lives back on track. We simply must solve these challenges – and we will need the commitment and energy of our communities to learn how to do this. The generous gift from the Cracchiolo family begins a new era of research and care for people and families with bipolar.”
How the Cracchiolos came to make this gift demonstrates the value of community outreach and partnerships as we work to improve care for bipolar disorder.
How a walkathon inspired the spirit of giving
On May 16, 2021, Wayne State University Fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha (PiK) Delta Nu, headed by president Logan McDill, hosted a walkathon to benefit the Prechter Program. The fraternity has members whose lives have been impacted by bipolar disorder, and they decided to give what they could to help fund research into bipolar disorder.
Members of the Prechter Program research team attended the event, which followed 2021 COVID-19 safety guidelines, and engaged with the fraternity and the surrounding community as they made their way around the Ernest W. Seaholm High School track. During the event, Mr. Cracchiolo, there to support his grandson Vincent (a member of PiK), connected with the Prechter Program members and learned more about the program’s mission and research. Impressed and energized by the dedication of the fraternity to raise money for the work being done by the Prechter Program; Mr. Cracchiolo added his generous gift, which will allow the Prechter Program to lead the way in instituting a Bipolar Learning Community. Regarding his new partnership with Prechter Program, Mr. Cracchiolo said:
“Everything has a beginning. Bipolar is our race to overcome. Having experienced this disease by our entire family 24 hours a day, one will not stand by. I was challenged by this awesome endeavor and am now affiliated with the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program by supporting their talented staff in this pursuit.”
The walkathon itself raised more than $9,000 to aid the study of bipolar disorder.
“The Prechter Program is grateful to the Delta Nu chapter of PiK for this fundraising effort, the connection to the community, and the new relationship that was brought about with the Cracchiolo family,” said Melvin McInnis, M.D, “Our research efforts are greatly accelerated by generous donors, and their giving inspires our entire research team.”