In 2018, The Dauten Center for Bipolar Innovation (DCBI) continued to pursue its mission of improving the lives of people with bipolar disorder. We are excited to share updates about our scientific collaborations, our research projects, our team, and media appearances.
The DCBI joined forces with the Harvard Brain Initiative (HBI)—led by Michael Greenberg, PhD, and Joshua Sanes, PhD—to promote collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians. A series of planned salon-style meetings, two of which occurred in 2018, are intended to unite fundamental discoveries about neurological and biological mechanisms generated in a lab context with the clinical insights of practicing psychiatrists and psychologists.
In 2018, the Dauten Center continued to pursue its mission as informed by its two guiding boards: the Patient and Family Advisory Council and the Scientific Advisory Board. In May 2018, the Patient and Family Advisory Council, which consists of patients with bipolar disorder and their families, met to share their insights and priorities to DCBI leadership. The Center’s Scientific Advisory Board, an international council of preeminent bipolar researchers, convened in October to review the progress of the DCBI’s research projects since its last meeting in 2017.
In June, the DCBI organized a “Patient and Family Education Day” that attracted hundreds of individuals from the community. The program included scientific talks from MGH researchers, as well as a patient panel in which selected patients from the DCBI could share their experiences of living with bipolar disorder. This event was one part of the DCBI’s ongoing mission to reduce stigma by educating patients, their families, and the wider community about bipolar disorder.
DCBI staff initiated several new research studies over the past year. In collaboration with Jose Venegas, MD, an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, we obtained permission from the Food and Drug Administration to study the effects of Xenon gas, a safe anesthetic, on patients with bipolar disorder. Preliminary evidence suggests that Xenon may reduce suicidal ideation in many depressed patients within hours of administration. Inspired by the work of Shubhroz Gill MD, at the Broad Institute, Clinic Director Andrew Nierenberg, MD, has also begun investigation into a nutritional strategy called “time-restricted feeding,” in which individuals restrict their caloric intake to one 10-hour period per day. Evidence from animal models suggests that this routine may improve sleep and other health outcomes relevant to bipolar disorder.
The DCBI disseminated the findings of its innovative research through 40 peer-reviewed scientific articles published in 2018. Its clinicians and research coordinators presented research symposiums and posters at academic conferences, including at the 52nd annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, the 38th annual meeting of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and the 57th annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
In April 2018, we were awarded $5 million from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study the comparative effectiveness of pharmacogenomics for the treatment of depression. A pharmacogenomic approach to care analyzes a person’s unique genes to personalize their clinical recommendations for medications that may be best suited to treat their condition.
Andrew Nierenberg, MD, appeared in a documentary film, “Kissed by God,” which was released May 2, 2018. The film details the life of Andy Irons, a three-time world champion surfer who struggled with the challenges of bipolar disorder and opioid addiction.
Three new Clinical Fellows joined the DCBI team this year. Tae-Sung Yeum, MD, started work at the clinic in May. Dr. Yeum graduated from Seoul National University College of Medicine and completed his psychiatry residency at Seoul National University Hospital in South Korea. He is working alongside Gary Sachs, MD, to investigate how people with bipolar disorder differ from healthy people in their health conditions and causes of death.
Amy Peters, PhD, joined in July. Dr. Peters completed doctoral training and a clinical Internship in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. During her fellowship at the Dauten Center she is investigating the risk, relapse, and treatment response in mood disorders using tools from cognitive neuroscience and immuno-endocrinology.
Finally, Maya Kuperberg, MD, arrived in November from Israel’s Be’er Yaakov-Ness Ziona Mental Health Center to assist with the Xenon gas study. During her time at the DCBI, she also plans to conduct network analyses, in which advanced statistical techniques are used to identify unique clusters of interacting symptoms that can improve our understanding and treatment of bipolar disorder.