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Psychiatry department conducts one of largest clinical trials ever (2-29-00)

Department of Psychiatry investigators at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio are seeking individuals with bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive disorder) to participate in one of the largest clinical trials ever funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

The study, called the STEP-BD (Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder), will focus on the effectiveness of treatments for bipolar disorder. Charles L. Bowden, M.D., professor and chairman of the psychiatry department and holder of the Nancy Ullman Karren Chair in Psychiatry, is the principal investigator in San Antonio. The Alamo City is one of a dozen testing sites across the country.

Patients with bipolar disorder who wish to continue an existing course of treatment will be allowed to do so.

Two study groups will be treated with several promising new medications. Participants in a third group will receive different types of psychotherapy in addition to medication. A separate group will receive psycho-education, such as self-help books and videos, instead of psychotherapy.

The researchers are looking for people who have been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder or who think they might have it. The therapists will conduct initial interviews and administer psychiatric assessments to determine the extent of a personís illness.

The Health Science Center runs one of the largest treatment programs for bipolar disorder in the United States, and Dr. Bowden expects that most of his patients will participate in the study. "We expect to enroll at least 200 patients at this one site," he said.

Participants in the randomized trials will receive free medication and treatment. Interested individuals may call Angie Manigault at (210) 567-5421.

Contact: Will Sansom or Jennifer Lorenzo