Dr. Robert Beech and Dr. IIyas Singec are the 2008 recipients of two $50,000 research prizes offered by the International Bipolar Foundation. The funded proposals cover different ends of the spectrum of research on bipolar disorder, from clinical to basic research. The information derived from both studies will help in our quest to understand the causes of bipolar disorder and to identify the optimal medications for patients.
Robert Beech MD., Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University and Janine Leffert, Research Assistant, will seek to determine whether the transcriptional profiling of circulating blood cells can predict responses of bipolar patients to lithium therapy. Results from this study will hopefully lead to the development of diagnostic tests that can predict or monitor response to treatment with lithium, greatly improving the risk/benefit ratio for patients treated with lithium. In addition, better understanding of the molecular pathways associated with treatment response could lead to the development of new therapeutic agents specifically targeting these pathways.
Illyas Singec MD, Ph.D. is a research scientist and the director of the Induced Pluripotent Somatic Cell (iPSC) program within the Stem Cell Research Center at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research. He will be mentored by Dr. Evan Snyder; Director of the Stem Cell Research Center. Dr. Singec’s proposal seeks to establish stem cells using IPS technology from individuals affected with bipolar disorder and to differentiate these pluripotent cells into neurons for functional studies. This approach will allow for the study of bipolar disorder in a unique and comprehensive way by directly comparing functional brain cells of patients with bipolar disorder to individuals without neurological and psychiatric diseases. This will serve as a powerful platform technology and will facilitate the development of potential new therapies.