Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program

Nearly 6 million adults in the U.S. — and an estimated 200 million people worldwide — live with bipolar disorder. This disruptive mental illness most often emerges in adolescence or young adulthood. The burden of this disease on individuals, their families and society is among the highest of all illnesses. The symptoms consume daily life, plaguing patients with profound swings in mood, ranging from mania to debilitating depression. Thirty percent of individuals with bipolar disorder attempt suicide, and 20 percent die by suicide. Bipolar disorder runs in families, tends to recur throughout life, and is affected by genes and experiences. Research to identify the mechanisms and expression of bipolar disorder can provide more timely intervention and more effective treatments.

The Prechter Program’s mission is to provide a repository of longitudinal clinical, genetic and biological data for collaborative research on the causes, prevention and treatment of bipolar disorder. The goal is to personalize treatment and prevent recurrences, enabling those with bipolar disorder to lead healthy and productive lives.

The Prechter team is led by research director Melvin G. McInnis, M.D., the Thomas B. and Nancy Upjohn Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression. Since 2004, the program has leveraged the exceptional breadth of expertise at U-M by collaborating with faculty in top-ranked departments across the university and beyond to advance research and patient care.

Four major initiatives are:

The Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder.

The largest long-term research study for bipolar disorder in the nation has over 1,200 participants and has been following the cohort since 2005. Billions of data points have been generated through biological samples of DNA, neuropsychological testing, clinical interviews, bi-monthly follow-ups and voice recordings, giving scientists the chance to study tiny differences in DNA and behavior that may play a role in how the disorder develops and what makes individuals vary in their response to treatment.

The Prechter Bipolar Genetics Repository.

The nation’s largest privately-funded bipolar genetics repository contains DNA samples from thousands of research volunteers, with and without bipolar disorder. The objective is to accelerate the pace of genetic research into the origins of bipolar disorder to find more effective therapies with the hope of eradicating the illness.

Predicting Individual Outcomes for Rapid Intervention (PRIORI).

Prechter researchers has developed a cell phone app and software to analyze the sound waves of a patient’s speech to identify changes before a mood episode. PRIORI is designed to allow intervention prior to onset, decreasing the likelihood of extreme episodes of mania and depression, and suicide.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Research.

K. Sue O’Shea, Ph.D., Crosby-Kahn Collegiate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and director of the U-M Center for Pluripotent Stem Cell Research, is transforming induced pluripotent stem cells from skin biopsies of patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder and control individuals’ cells into stem cells and ultimately 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.

To learn more, visit the Prechter Program website.


Bipolar Wellness Clinic

A clinic designed to help you learn skills for living with bipolar disorder. We will focus on maintaining wellness

Group Medical Visits

A group medical visit is an appointment with the entire Bipolar Clinic team and involves interaction with other patients as well as with clinicians.

We require that all patients who are followed in the Bipolar Wellness Clinic schedule a group visit at least once every 3 months in order to continue to get medication refills. You are not required to attend either the educational or support group portion of the visit if you prefer not to. We do believe that the information you will receive during the educational sessions will help you to manage your bipolar symptoms and strongly encourage you to attend whenever possible. Many patients also benefit from attending the ongoing support group.   

What happens in a Group Medical Visit?

Visits last from 1 to 3 hours.

During the visit we will ask you about your medications, any side effects that you may be experiencing and we will provide refills as needed.

We will also ask you how you are feeling and if you are having any troublesome symptoms.

The BipolarClinic group visit also offers educational group sessions which will cover topics such as stress management, fitness and exercise, sleep issues, nutrition, etc.

We are always looking for topics to cover and encourage patients to let us know if a particular topic would be helpful to you.

Individual Visits

Occasionally you may need to meet individually with one of the Bipolar Clinic team clinicians. We do have the capacity to meet with you individually on an as needed basis. We also require at least one individual visit annually in order to do a more in-depth assessment of how you are doing. We will let you know when it is time for an annual individual visit.

Because of the nature of the clinic and the focus on long term management of a chronic health condition we do not make frequent medication changes or do individual therapy with patients. Our focus is on helping patients learn to live with their illness and be active members of the health care team.

Other clinic Services

If you need extra information about area resources, need help applying for assistance programs or have a need for help with crisis situations such as emergency funding we have a case manager on site who may be able to offer some assistance. Please feel free to let any of the clinicians know if you would like to see the clinic case manager.

The Bipolar Wellness Clinic team includes:

  • Attending psychiatrists

  • Nurse Practitioners

  • Social Workers

Where and When

The Bipolar Wellness Clinic will run every other Tuesdays from 1-3:30 pm or the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 5:30-7:30 pm. We will also have a small number of individual visits available on an as needed basis.