Sarah Sperry, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology, and Associate Director of Clinical and Mobile Health Sciences for the Heinz C. Prechter Program at the University of Michigan has been awarded a 2022 Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF) Young Investigator Grant. The BBRF Young Investigator Grant program provides support for the most promising young scientists conducting neurobiological and psychiatric research. “BBRF Young Investigators represent a new generation of new generation of researchers who will pioneer breakthroughs in mental health research. We are excited to be able to support the work of these young scientists, who will apply powerful new technologies and insights to understanding, treating, and curing mental illness” says President and CEO, Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D. Young Investigator Grants provide each scientist with up to $35,000 per year for two years totaling $70,000 to enable promising investigators to begin careers as independent research faculty. The goal of the YI program is to help researchers launch careers in neuroscience and psychiatry and gather pilot data to apply for larger federal and university grants. Since 1987, more than $243 million have been awarded in Young Investigator Grants around the world.
Dr. Sperry’s project, “Modeling and Predicting Intraindividual Mood Dynamics: A Precision Health Approach to Bipolar Disorder” will use computational approaches to identify intraindividual dynamics of mood and how these dynamics predict meaningful clinical and treatment outcomes in individuals living with bipolar disorder. Further, these methods will allow us to examine whether individuals can be stratified by their patterns of intraindividual dynamics, potentially reflecting more data-driven characterizations of bipolar spectrum disorders. Dr. Sperry’s project will draw on the rich data from the Prechter Longitudinal Study and electronic health records (EHR) to measure longitudinal mood, sleep and circadian rhythms, medical and health comorbidities, personality and temperament, trauma exposure, and long-term clinical and functional outcomes. The ultimate goal of this work is to identify individual-level risk factors for more severe and unstable course of illness and methods for classifying individuals based on dynamic features of the illness which can inform personalized models of psychopathology and precision medicine-based approaches to treatment planning.