The funds will support research on the genetics, neurobiology, and brain circuitry underlying mood disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and related illnesses, with the ultimate goal of developing therapies that improve the lives of patients and their families and eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness. To that end, the gift will create an endowment for two senior distinguished professors with expertise in mood disorders, provide support for world-class junior faculty with a special interest in this area, and support clinical research and treatment programs as well as collaborations between UCSF's Department of Psychiatry, the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, and the Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience.
According to the World Health Organization, progress in understanding, treating, and preventing depression — which affects an estimated 350 million people worldwide — and bipolar disorder has been slow, and no truly new medications for these illnesses have been developed in decades.
"UCSF offers an ideal environment for making real progress on these debilitating disorders," said Department of Psychiatry chair Matthew W. State. "The Department of Psychiatry is emerging as a full partner in a powerhouse basic and clinical neuroscience community at UCSF, and shedding the typical territoriality of psychiatry versus neurology versus neurosurgery. By leading the charge on the research side, we can make a tremendous difference in people's lives and at the same time transform how people think about mental illness, ending the destructive stigmatization and marginalization of our patients. Serious mental illnesses are not fundamentally different from heart disease, cancer, or epilepsy — we just don’t understand them well enough yet."