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Pitt+Me Brain, Emotion & Evaluation Study (BEES) – Adults & Kids Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder


Have you and your child, aged 8-17, both been diagnosed with bipolar disorder? If so, you and your child may be able to take part in a research study to help better understand bipolar disorder in children, teens, and adults. Participation involves four visits and completing questionnaires and interviews. Children will complete two MRI scans. Compensation provided.


Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in feelings of mood, energy, and activity levels, and difficulties carrying out day-to-day tasks (NIMH). Bipolar disorder tends to run in families, which means that children with a parent who has bipolar disorder are much more likely to develop the disorder than those who do not.

The purpose of this study is to compare people with and without bipolar disorder to learn more about the symptoms of bipolar disorder in children, teens, and adults. Researchers hope their findings will lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment for young people at risk for developing bipolar disorder.


•    Age 18 and up
•    Parent of a child ages 8-17 years old
•    Both parent and child have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder
•    Child must be right-handed


Participation involves 4 visits over the course of 2 years. During the initial 2-3 hour screening visit, you and your child will complete questionnaires and interviews. If you decide to continue in the study, your child will have three additional visits. Each of the MRI visits will last approximately 5 hours, spaced about two years apart. In the second year, there will also be a follow-up in-person interview prior to the final MRI visit. At both MRI visits, your child will undergo testing and have an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scan. fMRI is a noninvasive brain imaging technique that can identify regions of the brain involved in performing specific tasks (like saying words). The scan does not use injections, radioactivity or x-rays.

  PRO16040137C - Children of Bipolar Parents: A High Risk Follow Up Study (BIOS) MH 060952-16

Age Range
AGE:   18 and Up

Duration DURATION:  2 years
VISITS:  4 visits

Location LOCATION: 
Bellefield Towers & UPMC Presbyterian (Oakland)
Compensation COMPENSATION: 
Phone Number PHONE NUMBER:
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Boris Birmaher

Boris Birmaher, MD, is the Endowed Chair in Early Onset Bipolar Disease and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine and serves as the Co-Director of the Psychiatry Research Pathway program. In addition to his extensive research, clinical and training activities, Dr. Birmaher is the Director of the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Spectrum Services Program at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC.

A leader in the study and treatment of pediatric mood and anxiety disorders, Dr. Birmaher is a pioneer in describing the predictors, risk factors, course and treatment of childhood-onset bipolar disorder. Throughout his career, he has served as the Principal-, Co-Principal or co-investigator for over 25 federally-sponsored research grants and projects. He has authored or co-authored more than 400 publications, numerous book chapters as well as his own book, New Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar Disorder. Dr. Birmaher has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years including the Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research in 2013 and the Ittleson Award for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 2014. Through his research, clinical and mentoring activities, Dr. Birmaher has increased our understanding of the risk factors for mood and anxiety disorders, developed and implemented innovative treatments to improve the lives of patients and their families, and trained the next generation of educators, clinicians and researchers in these disorders.


Kelly Monk

Kelly J. Monk, BSN, RN, is a graduate of LaRoche College. She is a clinical research supervisor in the Department of Psychiatry. Ms. Monk has worked at UPMC for thirty years, in research with Dr. Boris Birmaher for twenty-eight years, and with her current group for seventeen years. She also co-facilitates the Survivor of Suicide (SOS) group.

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