WMed, Van Andel Institute and Western Michigan University Join the National Network of Depression Centers

WMed, Van Andel Institute and Western Michigan University Join the National Network of Depression Centers


WMed, Van Andel Institute (VAI) and Western Michigan University (WMU) have joined the National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC) as the organization’s newest joint members after a recent vote by the NNDC Board of Directors.

The membership draws on WMed’s expertise in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, WMU’s excellence in behavioral treatment approaches and VAI’s expertise in research on the next generation of depression diagnostics and therapeutics.

It also builds on a longstanding collaboration between Eric D. Achtyes, M.D., M.S., DFAPA, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at WMed, and Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in Van Andel Institute’s Department of Neurodegenerative Science. Together, Brundin and Achtyes have led numerous federally funded clinical studies that have revealed powerful new insights into the biological roots of depression. Their findings also are laying the groundwork for an objective blood test to potentially evaluate depression severity and suicide risk.

Eric D. Achtyes, MD, MS, DFAPA
Eric D. Achtyes, MD, MS, DFAPA

“We are delighted to join the world-class institutions already a part of the NNDC,” said Achtyes. “We will combine excellence in patient care, biomedicine and psychiatry at WMed with cognitive behavioral therapies for which Western Michigan University is known, along with excellence in basic and translational neuroscience at Van Andel Institute. Reinforcing our collaboration under the NNDC will allow us to make significant contributions in depression care to both the NNDC and the people of West Michigan.”

WMed has oversight for a 50-bed adult, geriatric and adolescent inpatient clinic that sees approximately 10,000 inpatient visits per year, as well as a 10-bed Adolescent Partial Program, an eight-bed dedicated psychiatry emergency department, and provides electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) services at Ascension Borgess Hospital. The program also does more than 1,100 hospital consultations per year at Ascension Borgess Hospital and Bronson Methodist Hospital, and at the WMed Psychiatry Clinic located on the Ascension Borgess Hospital campus, residents and faculty practice side-by-side treating 5,000 patients annually.

“Together, we hope to make significant strides in our understanding of depression through leading-edge research, which we then can translate into actionable care through our clinical partners at Western Michigan University and Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine,” Brundin said. “It is an honor to join the National Network of Depression Centers, and we look forward to a fruitful and impactful relationship.”

Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Van Andel Institute is an independent basic and translational research institute that is home to more than 500 scientists, educators and staff. The Institute’s researchers leverage the latest technologies to explore the underpinnings of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic disorders, and more. As part of the Department of Neurodegenerative Science, Brundin’s lab investigates the links between inflammation and depression and suicide risk with the goal of informing improved care.

Further, the partnership will allow integration and collaboration with psychotherapy and behavioral sciences for which Western Michigan University is known.  

“Western Michigan University and the Department of Psychology are honored to join the National Network of Depression Centers. This collaboration with WMed and VAI is a vital step toward furthering important research, enhancing professional training, and providing clinical services to address the needs of people with depression,” said Jonathan C. Baker, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA the Psychology department chair with Western Michigan University. “We look forward to the chance to collaborate with our partners in Southwest Michigan, as well as the whole NNDC Network, toward this common goal.”

This is the NNDC’s first induction and collaboration of three separate member organizations unified as one joint-associate member of the NNDC.

"We are thrilled to welcome Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, Western Michigan University and Van Andel Institute as the newest joint members of the NNDC,” said Matt Samocki EdD, executive director of the NNDC. “Given their expertise in bio-psychosocial training for students and residents, as well as excellence in basic and translational neuroscience and commitment to furthering healthcare that assists patients of all ages in reaching optimal mental health and well-being, we think they will contribute immensely our network and advancing the lives of those living with depression and other mood disorders.”

The NNDC is a national network of world-class institutions and collaborators united to lift the burden of depression, bipolar and other mental health conditions to advance people’s overall wellness. The organization works to transform people’s lives through innovations in research, driving care solutions and advancing collective community impact.

Now with 26 member sites across the United States, the Network works to address next-generation mental health concerns through focused and collaborative commissions of researchers that include participants from NNDC member Centers of Excellence. The NNDC research priorities represent a shared commitment to further state-of-the-art depression and mental health research and corresponding clinical care.

The NNDC has worked since 2008 to develop and foster connections through a national network in order to advance scientific discovery and provide stigma-free, evidence-based care to people with depressive and other mental health illnesses. The organization looks forward to expanding the network of member sites to further the next chapter of impact, collaboration and growth.