Depression centers to fight depression, bipolar disorder

The chairs and eminent researchers from 16 university and academic medical centers met Oct. 24 for a historic charter adoption ceremony at the Comprehensive Depression Center.

The ceremony capped 18 months of work to establish a charter for the National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC), a 501(c) 3 organization patterned after the National Comprehensive Cancer Center Network, and signaled the formal commencement of the network.

The mission of the NNDC is "to improve the quality, effectiveness, and availability of depression and bipolar illness diagnosis, treatment and prevention so people can live better lives."

"This is a symbolic day for those suffering from depression and bipolar disorder," says Dr. John Greden, executive director of the Comprehensive Depression Center. "With 16 centers working together, the sky is the limit. Stigma also will dramatically lessen. The ultimate goal is to have such a center within 250 miles of every citizen in America. We can conquer these disorders."

The charter members of the NNDC are Columbia University; Duke University; Emory University; Harvard, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital; Johns Hopkins University; Stanford University; University of California, San Francisco, Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute; University of Colorado Denver Comprehensive Depression Center; University of Cincinnati-Lindner Center of HOPE; University of Louisville; U-M Comprehensive Depression Center; University of Pennsylvania; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Rabindar Subbian, chief operating officer of the network, adds that "(the NNDC) would not have been possible without supporters and donors such as George Wiegers, who provided a generous donation to the Michigan Depression Center to launch a center assistance program."

In 2009 NNDC plans include:

• Expanding existing comprehensive depression centers and establishing new centers at member sites;

• Encouraging large-scale collaborative research initiatives;

• Reviewing clinical guidelines in depression, bipolar and related illnesses and establish guidelines for implementation at NNDC member institutions;

• Integrating care for depression, bipolar and related illnesses in primary care; and

• Expanding the network's education and outreach efforts and assistance to member institutions.

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