Impact Grants Awarded to Accelerate Mental Health Research at U-M


Julie Perez

The Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg and Family Depression Center has awarded nearly $300,000 in Impact Grants to support three research teams at the University of Michigan that aim to better understand how to treat and prevent depression and bipolar disorders.

“For complex challenges like depression and well-being, breakthroughs often occur at the intersection of disciplines,” said Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D., director, Eisenberg Family Depression Center. “Our goal is to encourage collaboration among U-M researchers from different fields to ultimately expedite scientific discoveries that lead to improved outcomes throughout our communities.”  

Impact Grants support innovative, forward-thinking U-M investigators who are interested in accelerating mental health research. Nearly 40 letters of intent were received and reviewed by the Center’s Executive Committee. After a rigorous review of the final applications by the Center’s Liaison Committee (LINC), three projects were selected. The 2023-24 Impact Grant recipients include:  

Eisenberg Translational Research Award, $100,000

  • Recipient: Emily Mower Provost, Ph.D., professor and associate chair for graduate affairs, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, principal investigator
  • Project title: Measuring Emotions from Speech Using Smartwatches to Detect Variation in Mood
  • Research description: The goal of this project is to create a new smartwatch-based emotion measurement tool that will improve mood symptom severity measurement beyond what is possible with ecological momentary assessment (EMA). 

Oscar Stern Award for Depression Research, $100,000

  • Recipients: Addie Weaver, Ph.D., MPA, associate professor, School of Social Work, co-principal investigator; and  Joseph A. Himle, Ph.D., Howard V. Brabson Collegiate Professor and associate dean for faculty affairs, School of Social Work, co-principal investigator
  • Project title: Mental Health Can’t Wait: Developing and Testing a Technology-Assisted, Entertaining CBT for Depression Designed By and For High School Students
  • Research description: This project will support the development and evaluation of a new version of Entertain Me Well (EMW) designed specifically for and by high school-aged youth. EMW is an entertaining, evidence-supported, technology-assisted, 8-session cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) developed for adults with depression. EMW uses a character-driven storyline, presented as episodes in each session, to illustrate CBT principles and model skills that users apply in their own lives. 

Jack L. Berman, M.D. and Barbara A. Berman, Ph.D. Depression Research Award, $95,443

  • Recipients: Jeff Bohnen, clinical research associate, Department of Neurology, and MBA/M.D. candidate 2024, co-principal investigator; and Prabesh Kanel, M.S., Ph.D., research investigator, Department of Radiology, co-principal investigator
  • Project title: Could Ketogenic Interventions Represent a Breakthrough in Bipolar Disorder? A Pilot Clinical Trial with Functional Neuroimaging and Metabolic Biomarker Correlates
  • Research description: This project aims to study the effects of a ketogenic diet and a supplement known as ketone ester on people with bipolar disorder. This combination is believed to have positive effects on the body by creating more energy in cells and reducing inflammation, as well as being more accessible for patients to maintain over time. It may also affect brain activity and chemicals related to mood. By studying brain scans (neuroimages) and how the body processes energy (metabolic correlates), we hope to understand more about the mechanisms by which bipolar disorder works and how this diet and supplement combination could relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for those living with bipolar disorder.  

How to apply for an Impact Grant

The 2024-25 cycle of Impact Grants will be announced later this year. A streamlined application process makes it easy for investigators to get started. Learn more  

Supporting high-impact research 

Impact Grants are made possible through funding provided by generous donors. Learn more about how you can support mental health research.