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Yale Mood Disorders Research Program Receives American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Grant

June 04, 2021

The Yale Mood Disorders Research Program (MDRP), directed by Hilary Blumberg, MD, has received a $1.5 million American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) grant.

The grant is funded through AFSP’s Scientific Innovation Short-Term Risk Focus Grant research program and will fund the MDRP’s study of the intervention Brain Emotion Circuitry Self-Monitoring and Regulation Therapy (BE-SMART) in people ages 16-29 years with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder.

People with bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder comprise the majority who die by suicide, according to Blumberg, John and Hope Furth Professor of Psychiatric Neuroscience and Professor of Psychiatry, and in the Child Study Center and of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging.

For example, it is estimated that one in five people with bipolar disorder die by suicide, Blumberg said. The grant will allow further testing to expand on the MDRP’s preliminary evidence that BE-SMART reduces mood symptoms and suicide risk and has salutary effects on the functioning of brain circuitry that subserves emotion regulation.

The intervention provides people health strategies they can learn so they can regularize their daily patterns of sleep and physical and social activities which can have robust beneficial brain and other health effects.

Most sessions are delivered virtually which has worked well, according to Blumberg, and will help in telehealth movements -- highlighted in importance with the pandemic -- and provide the ability to more widely disseminate the intervention. The program also incorporates state-of-the-art digital technologies including actigraphy watches to collect data on activity-rest patterns in real time and with smartphones.

MDRP is dedicated to understanding the science of mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression. It brings together a multi-disciplinary group of scientists from across Yale in a highly collaborative research effort to reduce the suffering from mood disorders and risk for suicide.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on June 04, 2021