Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Depression Research Unit (DRU)

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Overview

The Depression Research Unit (DRU) at Penn was founded in 1964, and is currently under the direction of Jay D. Amsterdam, MD. It was one of the first mood disorder research clinics in the US, and was among the first clinics with a dedicated specialty program in bipolar disorders. Over the past 4 decades, DRU scientific programs have focused on developing new antidepressant treatments for severe and resistant depression, and the development of new mood stabilizer therapies for the prevention of bipolar disorder.

The DRU achieved national acclaim in the early 1970's as a participating site in the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Collaborative Study on the Psychobiology of Depression trial. More than 125 controlled clinical trials have been conducted on the DRU including the NIMH-funded studies of Lithium Nephrotoxicity in Bipolar Disorder,Cognitive vs. Pharmacotherapy of Severe Depression, Relapse Prevention of Bipolar Type II Disorder, Prevention of Recurrence in Major Depression, SPECT Brain Imaging as a Bio-marker of Major Depression, and Effect of Psychotherapy on Brain Serotonin Activity. In addition, other awarded research grants to DRU investigators include studies funded by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) and The Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI) on the Acute Antidepressant Therapy of Bipolar II Major Depression and Central 5-HT and Neuroendocrine Interaction in Depression Using PET Brain Imaging.

 

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