Sept. 14: Healthy Minds Across America' forum at U-M on mental illness

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - People in the Ann Arbor area concerned about the toll that mental health disorders are taking on their families and communities will have a unique opportunity to hear from world-class experts about the causes, symptoms and progression of such illnesses as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia and autism, and learn about current and potential treatments. 

As part of Healthy Minds Across America, an international day of free public forums on the progress of research on mental health disorders, University of Michigan will host one of 48 events in the United States and Canada on Sunday, Sept. 14.
The events have been organized by NARSAD, the world's leading charity dedicated to mental health research, in partnership with many of North America's most prominent universities and research centers. Like University of Michigan, these institutions are home to scientists whose cutting-edge research on the brain and its disorders has been supported by NARSAD since it began awarding grants more than 20 years ago.
The local forum will take place from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Depression Center and Ambulatory Psychiatry Rachel Upjohn Building, Garden Level Auditorium, located at 4250 Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor. The featured presentations and speakers will include:
  • "Improving Medical and Psychiatric Outcomes in People With Bipolar Disorder," by Amy M. Kilbourne, Ph.D., M.P.H, associate professor of psychiatry;
  • "Neuromodulation: An Update on Brain Stimulation in Psychiatry," by Stephan F. Taylor, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry; co-director, Psychiatric Neuromodulation Program; and  
  • "Variations Among Individuals in the Neurobiology of Depression: Clinical Presentation and Response," by Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D., Phil F. Jenkins Research Professor of Depression; professor of psychiatry, radiology and research; professor, Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute.
Gregory Dalack, M.D., associate chair and interim chair, Department of Psychiatry, and John F. Greden, M.D., Rachel Upjohn Professor, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, and executive director of the U-M Depression Center, will moderate the forum, which will include question-and-answer sessions with each of the experts. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended and can be made by visiting www.narsad.org, or by calling NARSAD at 800-829-8289.
Across the board, the experts who will speak at the Healthy Minds Across America forums represent the forefront of neuropsychiatric research and include heads of psychiatry departments from many of the most respected medical schools and treatment facilities, as well as some early-career scientists whose research has already led to breakthroughs, and even a Nobel laureate. Most of the speakers have received grants from NARSAD in support of their research or are members of NARSAD's Scientific Council, a group of 110 experts in the key areas of neuropsychiatric research that guides the organization's grant making activities.
"Never, to my knowledge, has there been such a concerted effort to bring the public together with the experts who hold the most knowledge about an area of human illness that accounts for more loss and devastation than any other," said Herbert Pardes, M.D., president of NARSAD's Scientific Council, who is also president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and a former head of the National Institute of Mental Health. "Mental illness is so prevalent in our society, estimated to affect as many as one in four North Americans in any given year, with one in 10 suffering serious, chronic conditions."
"More individuals and families are speaking out today than ever before about the pain and loss caused by mental illness," said Constance E. Lieber, NARSAD's president emerita, who is chairing this event. 
"We hope that people who are coping with mental illness, their friends and loved ones, and mental health professionals will all attend these forums to learn about the progress that's being made in understanding and treating mental illness," added Lieber, "and why there is reason for hope for improved treatments and even cures, if research can continue to flourish."
With that concern and goal in mind, in the fall, NARSAD will announce the launch of a $200 million fundraising campaign - which will also be called Healthy Minds Across America - to increase the organization's capacity to fund innovative research on mental health disorders. Outside of the U.S. federal government, NARSAD, a nonprofit organization, is the largest source of competitive funding for mental health research.
"Government funding for mental health research has remained flat in the United States, and probably won't get better any time soon," said Pardes, who helped to found NARSAD. "But we can't wait for the government. Too many lives are at stake, and we must not lose momentum in the pace of discovery we've achieved over the past two decades."
Since 1987, when NARSAD began giving grants as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, it has awarded more than $238 million in research funds to over 2,700 scientists at universities and medical centers in the U.S., Canada and 25 other countries. In 2008 alone, NARSAD has given $19 million in grants to nearly 300 scientists conducting clinical and basic research relating to depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, childhood mental disorders, and other conditions.
People interested in learning more about Healthy Minds Across America and NARSAD should visit www.narsad.org.

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