Three family philanthropies joined with the Milken Institute to commit $150 million to launch BD2: Breakthrough Discoveries for thriving with Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition with dramatic and often unpredictable shifts in mood, energy, activity, and cognition, affecting at least 40 million people worldwide.
While funding for mental health has increased overall, federal funding for research related exclusively to bipolar disorder has decreased by 50% over the past 10 years. As the largest private investment focused on the study of bipolar disorder, BD2 provides an unprecedented opportunity to identify breakthroughs in scientific understanding that create new interventions so that everyone with bipolar disorder can thrive.
“For far too long, bipolar disorder has lacked funding and collaboration to identify scientific advancements and treatment improvements,” said Kent Dauten, co-founder and chairman of Keystone Capital and one of three families launching the effort. “BD2 is a commitment to the 40 million people living with bipolar disorder and their loved ones.”
The Baszucki, Dauten, and Brin families united with the Milken Institute to create BD2 to advance discoveries for families like theirs. David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox, and Jan Ellison Baszucki, best selling author and mental health advocate, experienced the challenges of a mental health crisis firsthand in 2016 when their son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19, and created the Baszucki Brain Research Fund to support bipolar disorder focused research. Kent Dauten and his wife, Liz, have supported bipolar disorder research extensively after two of their four children were diagnosed as teenagers. They founded the Dauten Family Center for Bipolar Treatment Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital. Google co-founder Sergey Brin supports an array of health research initiatives aimed at breakthroughs for Parkinson’s, bipolar disorder, and other neurological conditions through the Sergey Brin Family Foundation. As a think tank and global convener, the Milken Institute is playing a leadership role in BD2, designing its structure and overseeing grantmaking so that investments make a transformational impact.
“BD2 is unique in its platform-based, integrated approach to innovation in both science and clinical care,” said Jan Ellison Baszucki, who together with her husband, David Baszucki, is providing initial funding. “By bringing together researchers, clinicians, funders, and those with lived experience, we hope BD2 will deliver innovative treatments like those that helped our son recover his health.”
“BD2 presents an opportunity to apply experience and resources directly to bipolar research to advance our knowledge and ultimately improve diagnosis and care,” said Cara Altimus, PhD, BD2’s managing director and senior director at the Milken Institute. “Together, we will accelerate discoveries for bipolar disorder and demonstrate that our approach to collaborative funding and integrated research is a new model for biomedical research.”
Taking learnings from the development of Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP), a core mission of BD2 is to provide unparalleled access to breakthrough insights on bipolar disorder through four unique programs. The BD2 Discovery Grants, Brain Omics, Genetics Platforms, and the Integrated Network are designed to share data, methods, and resources across initiatives and the bipolar disorder research community.
The BD2 Discovery Grants will fund multidisciplinary teams of scientists and clinicians to develop targeted and innovative research proposals that examine the genetic, molecular, cellular, circuit, or behavioral mechanisms of bipolar disorder.
The Brain Omics Platform will provide state-of-the-art multi omics to understand neural and non-neural changes in bipolar disorder on a molecular scale, an approach used in other brain diseases but is unprecedented in bipolar disorder studies.
The BD2 Genetics Platform will collect and genotype a large number of samples from individuals with diverse backgrounds who experience bipolar disorder to close a fundamental gap in science’s understanding of the genetic mechanisms of bipolar disorder.
The BD2 Integrated Network is a collaborative longitudinal study with an initial focus on people living with bipolar I. The study design and infrastructure prioritize rapid implementation of research findings to improve treatment for all those living with bipolar disorder.”