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Masoud Kamali, Ph.D.

Clinical Lecturer in Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Kamali joined the Prechter bipolar research group over four years ago. Prior to that, he had several years of clinical experience working in community mental health and inpatient hospital settings. “Witnessing the resolve of patients and their families struggling with the consequences of severe mental illness inspired me to focus my research on identifying the causes and finding better treatments for these disorders,” says Dr. Kamali.

His main interest is in understanding the risk factors associated with suicidal behavior, with the hope of developing more effective treatment options and preventing this far too common and tragic consequence of severe psychiatric disorders. Suicide is one of the leading causes of mortality, especially in the young adult population, and individuals with bipolar disorder have one of the highest rates of suicide. Despite the many advances in the field, we still have difficulty with identifying those at the highest immediate risk and few treatment options exist that specifically target suicidal behavior.

Clearly, suicide is a very complex behavior that does not have a single cause. However, the detailed clinical and biological data gathered from all the research volunteers who participate in the Prechter Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder is an extremely valuable source that can help answer some of our questions.

Dr. Kamali’s research has been examining factors such as levels of salivary cortisol – a hormone that can indicate the response to stress – and dimensional measures of personality, such as impulsivity and anger, that influence suicidal behavior. With additional funding support from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR), Dr. Kamali and collaborators from the Department of Psychology are looking at the differences in the electroencephalograms (EEG) or “brain waves” of individuals with bipolar disorder with and without a history of suicide, and unaffected control participants.

“The goal is to find a biological marker for suicidal behavior which will have significant consequences. It can help better identify individuals at risk and can also be utilized as a measure of response to treatment. With the help of all our volunteer research participants, we hope to continue exploring new frontiers, and to find better answers and more optimal treatments for this debilitating disorder.”