How would you describe your role and responsibilities at One Mind and IMHRO?
Motivated by the psychotic break of our son, Brandon, my wife Shari and I co-founded the International Mental Health Research Organization 22 years ago. In 2011, with former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, we founded One Mind for Research to accelerate treatments and cures for all brain disorders. I serve as Chairman of both organisations, and I directly interact with scientists and leaders of research organisations as well as donors globally.
Your family has shared personal experiences in order to help others and raise awareness. How important do you feel it is to keep the mental health conversation flowing?
As public advocates for brain health, we are constantly called on by parents and advocates to find available psychiatric care, and to support awareness programmes. We host an annual One Mind Summit to bring neuroscientists together to break down the “silos” of research, and foster collaborations. We also host an annual Music Festival for Brain Health which brings more than 500 people together to learn about the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience and celebrate and support research. We also co-founded Bring Change 2 Mind and produced a PSA (public service announcement) to reduce stigma. Our social media presence is another active way we promote dialogue and awareness.
Each year, IMHRO offers Rising Star Awards of up to $250,000 for research to improve understanding and find therapies for mental illness. Your finalists for this year have now been notified, are you able to tell us anything about them and their projects?
IMHRO’s Scientific Advisory Board has chosen Drs Mazen Kheirbek, PhD, and Mary Kay Lobo, PhD, to receive the 2016 IMHRO/Janssen Rising Star Translational Research Awards, and Dr Kate Fitzgerald, MD, to receive the 2016 IMHRO/AIM Sullivan Family Foundation Rising Star Award. Full details of each research project can be found here.
The IMHRO Rising Star awards encourage the community of researchers to direct their efforts toward translational science while supporting the research of emerging leaders in the field. They also fill a critical gap of support as federal funds dedicated to research continue to decline. The 2016 Rising Star Award winners were selected with the assistance and recommendations of the IMHRO scientific advisory board, which includes ten of the leading brain scientists in the world, noted for their pioneering research in their respective fields. Each Rising Star recipient will receive $250,000 to fund research for his or her studies.
One of your recent projects, Partners for StrongMinds, has a mission ‘to transform the way that psychosis is detected, treated and understood in the United States’. What are their strategies for improving psychosis health care?
Their strategies are demonstrated in two important education projects:
- Using youth in videos, blogs, and social media to explain what psychosis is, why early intervention can be helpful, and what the warning signs are.
- Partnering with the Northwell Health Early Treatment Program to produce a zip-code targeted social media campaign which serves up ads when “terms” suggesting psychosis are searched for so that treatment can then be provided. The goal is to dramatically reduce the time of untreated psychosis.
One Mind has partnered with a pioneering online patient community builder, PatientsLikeMe. What do you hope users will gain from this innovative tool?
The PatientsLikeMe portal was designed to create a “community” where patients in the 3000-person, multi-site, longitudinal study on traumatic brain injury (TBI) can communicate with others, in addition to allowing new participants to discuss all aspects of their lives with TBI. There are now more than 16,000 participants, with more than 30% also presenting post-traumatic stress (PTS). We expect this “community” to be a future recruitment source for clinical trials or novel therapeutics.
IMHRO is currently funding research into digital tools to “real time” monitor schizophrenic patients’ prognoses and responses to treatments. How do you think this could help future clinicians?
Digital health and mobile monitoring hold the promise of using data on sleep, social interaction, voice tones, blood pressure, and other signs, in order to give data on disease progression and therapeutic effectiveness. We expect to use these capabilities in a study involving 17 counties in CA, as well as the 100,000-person cohort being launched at UCLA for depression.
What are IMHRO and One Mind’s future goals?
- Continue to push “open science” and eliminate the silos of research that retard progress in all aspects of neuroscience research.
- Continue to support public/private partnerships that bring researchers, pharma, and the FDA into large-scale studies that have scale and outcomes-based metrics for success.
- Continue to bring new sources of private philanthropy to brain disease research.
- Launch of global leadership initiative to bring “gold standards” of behavior to corporations, academic institutions, and governments for people with brain diseases – much like exists for cancer through the CEO Cancer Roundtable.
- Explore the possibility of a “social impact” bond to fund brain research on a global level issued by either the US Treasury or the World Bank.
Within the field of mental health research, what do you hope to see achieved in your lifetime?
- Small molecule therapies directed to genetic mutations for all psychiatric disorders.
- Perfecting innovative therapies that capitalise on brain plasticity
- Digital health advances and mobile monitoring that accurately predicts disease progression and therapeutic effectiveness.
What are your proudest achievements to date for One Mind and IMHRO?
Many accomplishments come to mind, for instance, raising more than $250 Million in direct and “leveraged” funds for research. Also, we have funded 24 Rising Stars who have gone on to greatness. One, Josh Gordon, was just named the new Director of NIMH. Another achievement would be One Mind’s Project Gemini, a global study for TBI and PTSD that has already discovered a biomarker which is under review for FDA approval in record time. I am also particularly proud of the hope and awareness that we have brought to the thousands of people who suffer from a brain disease, as well as the slow but steady reduction in stigma.
Garen is a private investor and philanthropist, with 40 years’ experience in the financial services and transaction processing industries. He has served on numerous public company and private boards, and co-chairs the $4.2 Billion UCLA Centennial Campaign. Together with his wife, Shari, CEO, and Shannon, President, and Brandon, Communications Director, they operate the acclaimed Staglin Family Vineyard in Rutherford, Napa Valley, California.
IMHRO is committed to raising awareness and funding research to find preventions and cures for schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder within a generation. IMHRO is led and supported by families and individuals whose lives have been touched by brain disorders – and who have seen how far mental health research has come in the last decade. Contributions to IMHRO and ONE MIND™ have resulted in more than $256 million for research, changed thousands of lives, and funded stunning discoveries for better therapies now and tomorrow. www.imhro.org
ONE MIND™ is a new-model non-profit organization that is taking the lead role in the research, funding, marketing, and public awareness of mental illness and brain injury, by bringing together the governmental, corporate, scientific, and philanthropic communities in a concerted effort to drastically reduce the social and economic effects of mental illness and brain injury. With ONE MIND™ as the hub for open-science, big data, and research, compelling the scientific, health care, and pharmaceutical communities to collaborate completely for the common good, we can accomplish what would have previously required 50 years in less than a decade. www.onemind.org