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May 25, 2011

Michigan in Chicago – A Night of Theater to Benefit the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund – Synopsis

The May 5, 2011 benefit event for the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund – “Michigan in Chicago” – was a great success. The event was attended by 133 people and began with a reception at the Palmer House hotel and remarks by two of our faculty - John Greden, M.D., University of Michigan Depression Center Executive Director, and Melvin McInnis, M.D., Principal Investigator of the Prechter Fund - and Waltraud “Wally” Prechter, the Fund’s founder. The reception was followed by a spectacular performance of the Broadway musical “Next to Normal” at the Bank of America Theatre. The central character in “Next to Normal” is a woman living with bipolar disorder, and the musical portrays her experience with honesty and accuracy. The evening concluded with a talk-back with the musical’s cast.

“We would like to thank all of our event committee members and attendees for this wonderful event,” said Dr. McInnis. “A very special thank you goes out to our sponsors. We are grateful for their exceptional generosity in supporting bipolar research. Their gifts provide hope to those who are struggling with bipolar disorder, their families, and the researchers who are working to find a cure for this extremely challenging illness.”

Almost 6 million adult Americans have bipolar disorder, an illness that causes chemical imbalances in the brain and can lead to deep depressions, irrational “highs” and potentially tragic suicidal impulses. While the exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, research has shown that genetic, biochemical, and environmental factors play a role. “Understanding the interactions between genes and environmental stressors is believed to be a key to conquering this illness,” said Wally Prechter. “It is the Prechter Fund’s mission to support breakthrough research in psychiatric genetics, neuroimaging and neuroscience to find better diagnoses, treatments, and ultimately a cure.”

The event raised $65,000 after expenses, which is designated to support the Prechter Projects at the University of Michigan Depression Center. This event marked the Prechter Fund’s first foray outside of the state of Michigan to expand our audience of supporters who have an interest in bipolar disorder research.