Why Three Deep-Pocketed Funders Joined Forces to Take on Bipolar Disorder
Among serious forms of mental illness, bipolar disorder has been one of the least-funded in terms of research.
Source: Paul Karon, Inside Philanthropy
Among serious forms of mental illness, bipolar disorder has been one of the least-funded in terms of research. In fact, it’s seen sharply diminishing support in recent years, even as federal funding for other forms of mental illness has increased. That has left the estimated 40 million people worldwide who suffer from the disorder to struggle with imperfect treatment options.
These options may involve longtime standard medication lithium, used since the middle of the last century, to control and stabilize the mood swings that characterize the disorder. There’s also psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation and other treatments — but little hope for a timely cure.
Now, three wealthy families — all of whom have personal experience with bipolar diagnoses and the often complex quest for treatment — have partnered to accelerate basic understanding of the disorder and bring new therapies to the table. They’re doing this through the creation of BD²: Breakthrough Discoveries for thriving with Bipolar Disorder, which was designed to function not only as a funder, but, more importantly, as a global platform to coordinate science across disciplines and national borders and tackle this complex and still poorly understood disorder.
Launched with $150 million in initial funding from the families, the new organization’s founders are writer and mental health advocate Jan Ellison Baszucki and her husband David Baszucki, founder and CEO of the Roblox gaming platform (we’ve written in the last year about the Baszuckis’ deepening support for mental health causes); Kent and Liz Dauten (Kent Dauten is co-founder and chairman of private equity investment firm Keystone Capital); and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who has in recent years been making substantial investments in research into Parkinson’s disease, another brain disorder that’s long overdue for advances and new treatments.