$10.75 million gift to accelerate depression research at UMHS

October 21, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Michigan Medicine News,

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A transformative donation of $10.75 million to the U-M Depression Center will help accelerate the development of personalized treatments that are necessary to conquer clinical depression, bipolar disorder and related illnesses. The gift comes from U-M alumni Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg and family of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

For more than 15 years, U-M Depression Center researchers have worked collaboratively to make key discoveries and test innovative treatment options for depression and bipolar illnesses. The Eisenberg gift will enhance those efforts.

“It is time to put our energy and resources into finding solutions for depression. Everyone has been touched by a loved one or friend affected by mental illness,” said Kenneth Eisenberg. “Our family’s goal is to remove the stigma associated with this disease and to provide the necessary financial support to assure that meaningful treatment is accessible.”

Eisenberg worked directly with Depression Center founder and Executive Director John Greden, M.D., the Rachel Upjohn Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences at the U-M Medical School, to shape the gift so that it helps guide research toward breakthrough understandings of causes, personalized treatments and preventative strategies.

The gift will fund the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Professorship of Depression and Neurosciences, awarded to Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D. Sen is a leading expert in the biology of stress and depression and is currently leading a national study that tracks stress in students training to be physicians.

“The study is designed to use the students’ stress as a model to better understand the biology of how stress leads to depression in the general population,” Sen said. He pointed to the “collaborative and forward-thinking culture at U-M” as critical to the study’s success — a culture that will be enhanced by the Eisenberg gift.

The funding will also be used to:

  • Create the Eisenberg Collaborative Innovations Fund to support community outreach and partnerships between the U-M Depression Center and UMHS units such as the Frankel Cardiovascular Center and the Comprehensive Cancer Center. It will also expand alliances with the National Network of Depression Centers, community health centers and private companies to develop technology-based approaches for depression care and research.
  • Establish the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Emerging Scholar Award for early career research and the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Research Prize, a national award given to a leader in the field.
  • Build an endowment to sustain future research.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of the Eisenberg family and applaud their leadership and vision,” said Gregory Dalack, M.D., chair of the Department of Psychiatry. “Their gift will help us advance the science and treatment of these debilitating illnesses and combat the ignorance and stigma that prevent so many from seeking help.”

Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Medical School, welcomed the Eisenberg gift as the latest show of support for UMHS’ approach to blending research, advanced clinical care, education and community outreach.

“Our neuroscientists, mental health geneticists, health services researchers, clinical trial leaders and clinical faculty and staff know that by working together, they can make progress that will help our own patients and people worldwide who suffer from depressive disorders,” said Runge. “Donor funding increases our impact exponentially.”

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