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January 18, 2011

Bipolar Research Effort Grows in Strength – Welcome Pennsylvania State University

The University of Michigan Depression Center is pleased to announce that Penn State University has joined the team of academic institutions collaborating in the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund's Genetics Repository. Penn State will be adding 300 samples (150 patients and 150 healthy controls) to the Prechter Repository collection.

The Prechter Bipolar Research Fund’s Genetics Repository is the first independently funded bipolar genetics repository in the nation. Part of the overall Genes Project, the Repository is collecting DNA samples from people diag­nosed with bipolar disorder as well as healthy individuals. Unique characteristics of the Genes Project include emphasis on those with early onset of the disease as well as ongoing relationships and evaluations of research partici­pants at regular intervals to establish longitudinal patters. It is also the first “translational” bipolar project to integrate genetic, longitudinal biomedical and clinical outcome measures.

For the 5.7 million adult Americans who have bipolar disorder, the manic “highs” and the deep depressed “lows” they experience are bad enough. But they also face the fact that their loved ones, especially their children, are at risk of developing the disease themselves. Although no single gene “causes” bipolar disorder, the disease has its roots in genetic vulnerabilities that run in families.

The Prechter Repository now houses 1,453 genetic samples from studies at the University of Michigan along with its collaborating sites Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Weill Cornell, and now Penn State University. In addition to sharing the knowledge between the different universities, confidential, coded DNA repository samples and clinical information will be made available to scientists worldwide to accelerate and share clinical breakthroughs in evaluating and treating bipolar disorder.