November 1, 2022

Letter from the Director

Fall 2022

Melvin McInnis, M.D.


As our mission states, the goal of the Prechter Program is to improve life for people living with bipolar disorder. There is always so much to talk about and many projects to highlight. We looked for a theme for this year and in a moment of reflection, a rather simple question came to mind: What defines success for the Prechter Program?


The energy of the Prechter Program is nothing short of stunning in the number of connections it fosters. Connected is part of our strategic plan, it is part of our culture, and is fundamental to our open science/open data approach to the challenges of bipolar disorder. Success stems from collaborations, relationships, and team science.

Connected with the COMMUNITY
The Prechter Program has been connecting with the community for over 15 years of community engagement. We are connected through our public outreach programs and presentations — in person and online via educational webinars. Our panel discussions combine expertise in treatment strategies, public policy, lived experience, and scientific research. We love doing this! The 2022 annual Prechter Lecture that featured former WNBA All-Star and Mental Health Advocate Chamique Holdsclaw was a tremendous success. We hosted a webinar titled “Bipolar Disorder — Then and Now” that had over 230 individual logins. The Prechter Program is an “on the ground” program, connecting with people in the community who live with bipolar disorder and their families and friends. The growing public interest in our mission represents major successes for us. We remain connected with our study participants, and many participate in community events in addition to engaging in our diverse studies of bipolar disorder.

Connected LOCALLY
Our collaborative research model is at the heart of the scientific strategic plan of the Prechter Program. Our collaborating labs and research teams are themselves independent scientific teams that are connected with the Prechter Program, and access the clinical data and biological samples from the Prechter Program in their research. These affiliate labs join forces with the Program in many ways that include public outreach and educational events, as well as grant applications and other funding activities, such as meeting with potential philanthropic donors.

Connected GLOBALLY
The Prechter Program has collaborative agreements with research teams in Australia, Europe, and Canada. We continue to host monthly online conference meetings with our collaborators in bipolar research, bringing together teams of bipolar researchers worldwide.

Researchers strive to publish their work. The Prechter Program publishes on average 10–12 scientific manuscripts annually. In the current calendar year there have been 12 publications and several more are in the ‘pipeline’. The research in the affiliate labs continues to amaze me!

  • Dr. Mower Provost from the University of Michigan College of Engineering has made significant gains in methodology to analyze speech from periodic sampling of the voices of study participants. There were major security and regulatory hurdles to get this project into production. We now have several participants using this technology — the next iteration of our PRIORI project.
  • Dr. O’Shea from the stem cell research lab has identified 12 protein targets in the cargo of cellular exosomes (small organelles within the cell involved in metabolism) that are present in significantly different amounts in bipolarvs. control-derived neurons. The process is underway to determine if these proteins could be targeted therapeutically.
  • Dr. Burgess in the sleep lab studied sleep rhythms across seasons and didn’t find an appreciable difference, but identified a research participant with non-24 syndrome, a condition wherein sleep is increasingly delayed into the night. This raises the question of how frequent such a pattern is among those living with bipolar disorder. She is conferring with other sleep experts to consider the implications and determine next steps.

Our research team is now in the office several days per week and it is simply a delight to be together in person. Holli Bertram, program manager, has seen that all has gone smoothly. As we welcome this new opportunity to again connect face-to-face, we are so proud of the work that the team has been doing over the past couple of years under the restricted COVID conditions.

Our data team continues to shine! Under the leadership of Anastasia Yocum, we have delivered data to collaborators, locally, and internationally, like never before and have a team that helps with all aspects of the collaborative. Claudia Diaz-Byrd takes care of the data use agreements between institutions. We welcome Rachel Bresnahan, our new marketing and communications specialist. We have some terrific programs in the planning stages that include outreach and education events.

Our most important connection, however, is with the individuals who live with bipolar disorder and their family members. These are the relationships that nurture, teach, and inspire us every day at the lab! Ultimately, it is for those with lived experience that we keep pushing forward. And no matter how we define success, ultimate success will be determined through their eyes.

Your support and interest help energize us each day. We are always glad to connect with you and share the latest activity.

Melvin McInnis, M.D.






Dr. McInnis is the director of the Prechter Bipolar Research Program;
Thomas B. and Nancy Upjohn Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression;
Professor of Psychiatry