Poitras Center for Affective Disorders Research

Affective disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression and other disorders of mood, are among the leading causes of disability worldwide. Their biological basis is still largely unknown, and there is an urgent need for better understanding on which future therapies can be based.

The Poitras Center for Affective Disorders Research was established in 2007 to address this need. The center was founded through a $20M commitment from Patricia and James Poitras ‘63 to the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, to support research into the root causes of these conditions. The center supports research not only at the McGovern Institute but throughout MIT, including collaborative projects with other institutions such as the Broad Institute, McLean Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and other clinical research centers.

In 2015, the McGovern Institute and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT launched a new monthly seminar series called the Stanley Center & Poitras Center Translational Neuroscience Joint Seminar Series. The talks feature researchers from universities and pharmaceutical companies who study the molecular basis of psychiatric disorders.

Research goals

The major focus of the Poitras Center is on bipolar and depression, but it also supports work on other serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease that include a major component of mood alteration. The focus includes both human and animal studies, but in all cases the priority is to support fundamental work that will advance understanding of the underlying biology of these conditions.

The establishment of the center was the culmination of a longstanding commitment by the Poitras family to MIT, including the establishment of the Poitras Professorship for Neuroscience. The first holder of this chair is Guoping Feng, who uses animal genetic models to study the neural basis of psychiatric disorders. Professor Feng joined the McGovern Institute in Spring 2010.

Meet Professor Feng and the founders of the Poitras Center, Jim and Pat Poitras, in the brief video below.

More Information

For further information about the Poitras Center, read a summary of the center's current activities or contact the director, Robert Desimone.

  Image: Qian Chen, Guoping Feng