The University Board of Regents is expected to endorse a proposal tomorrow to establish on campus the nation”s first multi-disciplinary center for research, education and treatment of depression.

The regents will also be asked to approve requests for state appropriations for the fiscal year 2003 for each of the University”s three campuses at their meeting tomorrow. The University will ask the state for a 4 percent increase in funding for the Ann Arbor campus, which would amount to an additional $14.6 million.

The University of Michigan Depression Center will encompass seven different schools within the University and would bring together faculty from unique backgrounds with a common goal: to design new research and new treatments for a debilitating but highly treatable disease, said John Greden, who will be the executive director of the center.

“This is a leading place in the country already, and we would like to take steps to make the University of Michigan a world-class leader in this area,” Greden said.

Many of the pieces for the center are already in place, Greden said. More than 100 faculty members have expressed interest in the center or are already doing work within the center”s spectrum of interest.

Additional institutions at the University, such as the Life Sciences Institute, could serve to expand collaboration. This could lead to breakthroughs in understanding and treating depression.

Depression is a brain disorder, and some people are genetically predisposed to be more vulnerable than others to episodes of depression, Greden said, adding that there is also a strong correlation between depression and outside events in a person”s life.

“Too little attention is paid to early detection, appropriate intervention, getting people and keeping people well and even prevention,” he said.

But it doesn”t have to be that way, he added. Recent research indicates that while 15 to 17 percent of a population at large can be expected to experience depression in their lifetime, measures can be taken to lessen or even prevent episodes of depression in those at risk.

Greden said resources ranging from research opportunities to screening and treatment services to help those suffering from depression would be available to the University community. The center would also be open to people outside the University.

While the proposal the regents will be asked to approve tomorrow does not include plans for a physical facility, Greden said a building to serve as the center”s home base could come before the regents in the next few months.

The regents will also be asked to approve the state appropriations requests from all three of the University”s campuses, as the University begins to prepare a budget for the 2002-2003 fiscal year.

The state allotted the University a 1.5 percent increase in appropriations for the 2002 fiscal year, and as a result, tuition rose 6.5 percent. The University had requested a 7 percent increase.

Planning for the 2003 fiscal year will be more complex than usual because of the weak economy, said Daniel Little, chancellor of the Dearborn campus.

“We are at the beginning of a complex process,” Little said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.