Print this page


April 2, 2009

Fashion Show to Increase Awareness and Support of Bipolar Disorder


The May 21st event benefits the Prechter Research Fund at the University of Michigan Depression Center

ANN ARBOR, Mich – A runway show featuring fashions chosen by Saks Fifth Avenue stylists will help shine a spotlight on bipolar disorder, one of the most prevalent yet least talked about mood disorders in the United States.

Saks Fifth Avenue at the Somerset Collection in Troy has partnered with the University of Michigan for a special fashion show to benefit the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund at the University of Michigan Depression Center.

The show starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, 2009, and will include a reception and brief remarks about breakthrough bipolar disorder research conducted at the University of Michigan Depression Center.  Funds raised in conjunction with this event will help advance the research at the Prechter Genes Repository.

“Research being conducted by the Prechter Bipolar Research team has the very real potential to help us better understand bipolar disorder, find more effective treatments, and get us closer to a cure,” said Melvin McInnis, M.D., Thomas B and Nancy Upjohn Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression in the Department of Psychiatry. 

Research features a genetic repository where DNA samples from individuals with bipolar disorder and those unaffected by the disease are collected and studied.  “The DNA will be evaluated to find clues to early diagnosis and a “roadmap” to understanding causes and identify treatments,” McInnis explains.

Saks Fifth Avenue of the celebrated Somerset Collection will provide a glitzy evening of fashion and high style for guests attending the show.  Their generous sponsorship has created the opportunity to raise awareness about bipolar disorder as well as funding for research.

"I would like to express my gratitude to Saks Fifth Avenue for supporting the work of the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund by hosting a Fashion Show,” said Waltraud “Wally” Prechter, founder of the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund. “The proceeds will benefit the Gene Repository which is a one -of- a- kind project in our nation. I am delighted and hopeful that by combining fashions and fundraising, we will be able to accelerate research and understanding of this insidious illness."

Mrs. Prechter has worked tirelessly to promote the bipolar disorder cause since the death of her husband Heinz C. Prechter in 2001.  Mr. Prechter was a successful and celebrated automotive executive and philanthropist who fell victim to suicide after suffering from bipolar disorder for most of his adult life.

Tickets for the event are $150 and sponsorships in the amounts of $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 are also available.  To learn more about the fashion show, please contact the Prechter Bipolar Research Fund at (734) 675-2200.  For more general information about the Fund, please visit

Facts about the Prechter Genetic Repository and the Heinz B. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund at the University of Michigan Depression Center:

  • The fund has supported research at U-M, Stanford University and Cornell University.
  • The repository has expanded with the addition of genetic samples and data from 1,500 patients collected by Johns Hopkins University researchers who will now work with the other Prechter-funded researchers.
  • Many more DNA samples are needed, both from people who have bipolar disorder and from people without the disorder, no matter whether they have loved ones with bipolar.
  • Giving a DNA sample involves allowing the research team to take a small sample of blood. Volunteers are interviewed at the start of the study, and annually after that, about their health, mental well-being and other issues.
  • Those interested in finding out more about the project can call toll-free 1-877-UM-GENES or       (1-877-864-3637), or e-mail

Facts about Bipolar disorder:

  • Bipolar disorder was once called manic depression, but the term “bipolar disorder” is more commonly used today.
  • The main characteristic of bipolar disorder is major mood swings, which can occur off and on throughout life. These can alternate between manic “up” or “high” periods, and depressed “down” or “low” periods.
  • More than 5.7 million Americans, or 2.6 percent of the population, are estimated to have some form of bipolar disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder runs in families, and children whose parents have it are at an increased risk of developing it themselves.
  • Suicide or suicide attempts are an unfortunate but common occurrence among people with bipolar disorder.

Find more information about bipolar disorder:


The University of Michigan Depression Center is the nation’s first comprehensive center dedicated to patient care, research, education and public policy in depression and bipolar disorder. Established in 2001, its mission is fivefold: to detect depression and bipolar disorders early, treat them earlier and more effectively, prevent recurrences and progression, counteract stigma, and improve public policy. More than 200 faculty, staff and students from across the University are members of the center.  For more information about the University of Michigan Depression Center, please visit our web site at or contact us at 800-475-UMICH.