The Southwestern Medical Foundation recently received $5 million from The Hersh Foundation to support the development of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The grant will also support the Julie K. Hersh Chair in Depression Research and Clinical Care.
The objective of the new Center is to progress the research on the causes and treatment option for patients suffering with bipolar, depression, and other mental health related conditions.
The center will be led by Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, a Professor of Psychiatry and Chief of the Division of Mood Disorders at UT Southwestern, and aims to conduct research in early detection and intervention of these conditions through the study of biomarkers; further, it wants to establish personalised and leading-edge treatments and care based on the best research.
“The possibilities for significant advances in the understanding of depression and bipolar disorders have never been greater,” said in a recent news release Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “UT Southwestern’s rich research environment has paved the way for important discoveries. The Hersh Foundation’s generous gift supports the next important step − finding the biological foundations that can help us design more effective diagnoses and treatments tailored to an individual’s needs,” added Dr. Podolsky, who holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.
The Hersh Foundation was established in 1997 and has been investing in research focused on mental health. The president, Julie Hersh wrote a book titled Struck By Living: From Depression to Hope, where she detailed about her depression, becoming a national advocate on the condition. Her insights regarding depression were also published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and she is also a member of the Patient Advisory Council for the International Society of ECT and Neurostimulation.
“Today, most people wait for a ‘Stage IV’ level of symptoms before seeking treatment for mental illness,” said in the news release Mrs. Hersh, a board member of Southwestern Medical Foundation and numerous other Dallas institutions, who was also part of the advisory board to develop the Center. “Just as with breast cancer, most mental illness caught in an early phase and with the right treatment applied can be managed. Late reaction results in massive collateral damage – problems at work, familial strife, and even suicide. Dr. Trivedi and UT Southwestern are uniquely qualified to craft a more scientific approach for early detection and personalized treatment.”
Kathleen Gibson, President and CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation, noted in the news release, “Julie has been one of the most informed and active members of the Board of Southwestern Medical Foundation, encouraging the enhanced visibility of the Foundation and the work it supports through service on our Public Affairs committee. This important gift and Julie’s passionate work in helping to advance the science and treatment of depression has been the definition of community leadership in action.”
The aim of the Center is to eradicate the effects of depression, which affects millions of people worldwide, by changing the current trial and error treatment paradigm with personalized care. “There is an urgent need to identify brain, blood, and behavior-based diagnostic tests in order to improve early recognition,” said in the news release Dr. Trivedi, who holds the Betty Jo Hay Distinguished Chair in Mental Health. Dr. Trivedi received the 2015 American Psychiatric Association Award for Research, the Association’s most significant award.
The results from these tests could provide accuracy on the treatment options for patients with mood disorders. A total of 2,000 participatns will take part in a trial and will receive treatment to identify biosignatures to predict clinical outcomes.
In order to identify mood management issues, Dr. Triveli will initiate a research in which young people will be followed-up through high-school, the peak period of these mood disorders. So far, the researchers were able to determine the effect of alternative treatments to typical medications, such as the importance of psychotherapy, exercise and brain stimulation.
The Center combines in their investigations many fields of research including translational clinical research in genetics, basic research, functional brain imaging, and research on treatment options involving an entire age span, with an emphasis on treatment of chronic, resistant, or recurrent depressions.
“The Center will be built on the principles of scientific rigor, interdisciplinary collaboration, and open innovation, which already define UT Southwestern’s biomedical research and clinical programs,” Dr. Trivedi said in the news release. “With support from the Hersh Foundation, we can advance the frontiers of mood disorders research, swiftly translating scientific discovery into clinical practice, and soundly restoring the full resilience of living to those on the cusp of losing hope. I am particularly indebted to Julie Hersh for her amazing advocacy and unwavering support for the creation of this Center.”