Baszucki Group Awards $6M to Pittsburgh Psychiatry-Led Research Team to Study Mechanisms of Ketogenic Diet in Bipolar Disorder

March 21, 2024 Today, Baszucki Group announced $6 million in funding awarded to a research team led by University of Pittsburgh Psychiatry professor and researcher, Mary L. Phillips, MD, MD (Cantab). The philanthropic gift unites leaders across affective neuroscience, neuroimaging, mitochondrial biology, and cellular models to elucidate the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effect of the ketogenic diet in bipolar disorder, with an emphasis on symptoms of hypomania and mania.

“With this generous support from Baszucki Group, we embark on an ambitious endeavor to interrogate, for the first time, the relationship between gene expression, mitochondrial function, and brain markers associated with a ketogenic diet’s impact on symptoms of mania and hypomania,” said Dr. Mary Phillips, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Clinical and Translational Science, and Bioengineering, and Pittsburgh Foundation-Emmerling Endowed Chair in Psychotic Disorders in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Phillips is a trained psychiatrist and Director of the Phillips Mood and Brain Laboratory which specializes in mood disorders. She is internationally recognized for her research on emotional and reward processing in the human brain, and how dysregulation of these systems contributes to serious mental illnesses—producing over 400 research publications. The research team also includes Zachary Freyberg, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Cell Biology, University of Pittsburgh, Colleen McClung, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical and Translational Science, University of Pittsburgh, and Ana Andreazza, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology and Psychiatry, University of Toronto.

“This investment underscores our continued commitment to supporting rigorous, scientific inquiry to test potentially transformative clinical interventions like ketogenic therapy, which sent our son’s bipolar illness into remission,” said Jan Ellison Baszucki, co-founder and President of Baszucki Group. “With genetic, metabolic, molecular, and neural network investigations, this research has the power to lead to new insights into the mechanisms of bipolar mania, as well as precision neurometabolic interventions.”The $6 million gift is the second grant in Baszucki Group’s newly-announced research program: ReThink Bipolar: Researching Therapeutic Integration of Nutritional Ketosis in Bipolar Disorder. ReThink Bipolar builds on Baszucki Group’s prior investments in bipolar disorder therapeutic research, as well as six pilot trials of ketogenic therapy for serious mental illness, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression, and anorexia nervosa.