Of great public health concern is the low number of researchers who are pursuing careers in studying bipolar disorder, an area that has been continually underrepresented in mental health research. Increased energy and resource should be directed toward enticing and sustaining the next generation of scientists who conduct bipolar research, with emphasis on critical time points such as during the transition to independent investigation. A national program with mentors who span the translational continuum of bipolar research will enhance opportunities and strengthen connection for these junior investigators. Since 2005, the Research Career Development Institute (CDI) for Bipolar Disorder has been carried out with great success. The experience each year lends to further refinement of the contents of the agenda to ensure that the program is addressing the most up-to-date issues surrounding bipolar disorder research. The proposed CDI for Bipolar Disorder is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh and core faculty who represent multiple academic institutions across the country. This program is designed to improve and augment the research training for promising junior investigators whose interests span the translational continuum. The goals of the CDI for Bipolar Disorder are to enhance participants'repertoire of research "survival skills;" share pragmatic barriers and strategies in carrying out research with specific emphasis on issues related to bipolar disorder research;and establish a network of young investigators and senior mentors across the country interested in bipolar research. This goal will be achieved through an annual intensive three-day program for a new group of approximately 20 junior investigators each year. Subsequent communication among the network of participants and faculty will be through ongoing meetings which take advantage of the existing venues and resources of annual professional conferences as well as Web-based networking and communication tools developed through collaboration with an existing NIMH SBIR. By training a critical mass of bipolar researchers, we ensure continued discovery, scholarly interchange and transmission, and effective dissemination of new knowledge in this important yet understudied area of mental health. We believe that the CDI for Bipolar Disorder will continue to be a national resource to help reverse the decline in the number of dedicated scientists in this area of research.
There are a low number of mental health researchers who are choosing careers in the study of bipolar disorder, an area that is understudied as compared to other mental health disorders. Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder are at risk for suicide, substance abuse, days lost from work, divorce, and medical illness. These outcomes might be lessened if we increase the number of scientists committed to a career in bipolar disorder and better support them in carrying out their research.