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Grantees include researchers at Yale University, Stanford University, New York Genome Center, and Wyss Institute at Harvard University; BD² opens new round of funding

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- BD²: Breakthrough Discoveries for Thriving with Bipolar Disorder today announced its first round of Discovery Research grants, totaling $18 million, bringing greater collaboration and focused funding to the field of bipolar disorder. Multidisciplinary teams of scientists and clinicians, whose leads are at Yale University, Stanford University, New York Genome Center, and the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, will each receive grants of up to $4.5 million over three years to examine the fundamental mechanisms of bipolar disorder. Building on the success and enthusiasm from the field, BD² also announced the second round of funding for the program, inviting interested research teams to apply for grants of the same amount.

"The Discovery Research program is the cornerstone of BD²'s work to broaden understanding so that we can more effectively diagnose and improve treatment for the tens of millions of people living with bipolar disorder," said Cara Altimus, PhD, managing director for BD² and senior director at the Milken Institute. "These teams of scientists will work within their own institutions and collaborate across teams to explore hypotheses on the biological causes of bipolar disorder."

The first round of Discovery Research grantees includes:

  • Hilary Blumberg, MD, of Yale University, will lead her team to investigate mitochondrial-related genes, metabolic changes, and the central importance of energy- and activity-related symptoms at the onset of bipolar-related episodes. These studies will expand knowledge about bipolar disorder biology and may translate that into pharmacological therapeutics and behavioral interventions.
  • Julie Kauer, PhD, of Stanford University, will lead her team to study the biological mechanisms underlying bipolar disorder, especially those involved in sleep and mania-like behaviors. This could guide therapeutic development by linking genetic changes to circuit and behavioral level impacts.
  • Thomas Lehner, PhD, of New York Genome Center, will lead his team to explore the genetic underpinnings of bipolar disorder using multiple stem cell approaches to unravel the shared biology of common and rare genetic variants in people with African ancestry. The research will improve our understanding of how genetic risk factors affect changes that converge onto shared genes, biological processes, and pathways.
  • Jenny Tam, PhD, of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, will lead her team to examine the molecular mechanisms of common bipolar interventions and the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder. This work will provide better insight on mechanisms of action in current treatments, improve upon the use of current treatments, and develop better alternatives.

Learn more about the projects and the teams.

BD² also announced the opening of a second round of funding opportunities for the Discovery Research program. BD² invites scientists across disciplines to learn more about and apply for this funding opportunity for bipolar disorder research.

"Opening the Cycle 2 RFA for the Discovery Research program is a big step for an organization that is just celebrating its first anniversary," said Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chair, BD² Research Programs. "The work done by these teams will increase our understanding of effective interventions for the millions of people who live with this complex, debilitating disorder."

BD²'s Discovery Research program leverages successes from Aligning Science Across Parkinson's (ASAP), an initiative that brings together researchers from different disciplines to accelerate discovery across the entire landscape of Parkinson's disease research.

"ASAP is proud to see that our collaborative team science model for Parkinson's disease research is being successfully applied to the field of bipolar disorder research," said Ekemini Riley, PhD, founder of the Coalition for Science and managing director of ASAP. "Through our shared principle of open science, ASAP and BD² are helping create collaborative, effective strategies that can be applied across scientific disciplines to accelerate discoveries that lead to breakthroughs."

In its first year, BD² has already dedicated more than $60 million in funding to research that accelerates scientific understanding of bipolar disorder and advances clinical care through cross-disciplinary collaboration, data sharing, and real-time learning.

About BD²: Breakthrough Discoveries for thriving with Bipolar Disorder is the first organization focused on funding and advancing research and care for bipolar disorder on a global scale. Our collaborative, open-science approach is designed to transform and shorten the time it takes for scientific breakthroughs to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the tens of millions of people with bipolar disorder. For more information, please visit

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