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Collaborating Together Through Research to Improve Clinical Care

Dr. Nierenberg is Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Director of the Bipolar Research Program, and Associate Director of the Depression Clinical and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He attended the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University followed by a residency in psychiatry at New York University/Bellevue Hospital and then became a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at Yale University. Dr. Nierenberg then ran one of the Affective Disorders Inpatient Units and the Affective Disorders Outpatient Unit at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA. In 1992, he joined the Psychiatry Department at MGH. He has published over 350 original articles and over 60 reviews, editorials, and chapters, and has been listed among the Best Doctors in North America for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders continuously since 1994. He received the NDMDA Gerald L. Klerman Young Investigator Award and was elected as a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP). Dr. Nierenberg is the Director of the NIMH Bipolar Trials Network which is currently conducting CHOICE, 10-site nationwide comparative effectiveness trial of lithium and quetiapine. Additionally, the Bipolar Trials Network is in the final stages of completing LiTMUS, an effectiveness trial of low dose lithium alone or in combination with optimized treatment. His primary interests are treatment resistant depression, bipolar depression, and the longitudinal course of mood disorders. Dr. Nierenberg lectures nationally and internationally, teaches and supervises clinicians and researchers, maintains an active clinical practice, conducts clinical trials, and is on the editorial boards of multiple psychiatric journals. 

This presentation will discuss the new paradigm of collaboration and why it is important for people with bipolar disorder to seek opportunities to actively collaborate with researchers and why it is important for researchers to actively collaborate with patients. To better understand the biology and treatment of bipolar disorder, we need to improve research methods. The Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has sparked a new way of thinking about clinical research, especially around how patients and researchers interact. Specifically, PCORI encourages patients and researchers to collaborate as equal partners to answer questions important to patients and their families. Patients who agree to enter clinical studies are not subjects or participants, but true collaborators during all stages of research. From identifying research topics worthy of study, to prioritizing those topics, to making sure that the study has outcomes important to patients, to ensuring that the study is well run, to interpreting and disseminating the results, patient-collaborators will work side-by-side with researchers to improve clinical care. The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality funded the recently completed Bipolar CHOICE study that compared lithium and quetiapine. At the end of Bipolar CHOICE, we held a Stakeholder Summit that brought together patients, patient advocacy groups, government officials, and insurers to help us interpret the findings before the final paper was submitted.