Bipolar Research

About Us

Our Staff: The Staff at the Bipolar and Depression Research Program are integral to the success of our studies and our reputation for patient care. The men and women at the Bipolar and Depression Research Program each have a thorough understanding of Bipolar Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, their course and treatment and are dedicated to improving the lives of individuals living with these disorders.

Trisha Suppes, MD, PhD

Dr. SuppesTrisha Suppes, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stanford University School of Medicine and Director of the Bipolar and Depression Research Program at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California. Within the VA, she is also the Network of Dedicated Enrollment Sites (NODES).  Her areas of expertise and research include long-term treatment strategies for bipolar disorder, treatment for bipolar II disorder, and treatment of bipolar depression. 

Dr. Suppes currently serves as an associate editor on the American Journal of Psychiatry Editorial Board and is a past member of the Board of Councilors for the International Society for Bipolar Disorders.  Dr. Suppes was a member of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Work Group for the Practice Guidelines for Bipolar Disorder and the APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5).  She also served as co-chair of the Department of Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense work group on treatment guidelines for bipolar disorder.  Additionally, she is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.  She has authored or co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed articles.

Before moving to Stanford in June 2008, Dr. Suppes was the Director of the Bipolar Disorders Research Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.  Dr. Suppes earned her BA in human biology at Stanford University in Stanford, California, her Ph.D. in anatomy/physiology at the University of California at Los Angeles, and her M.D. at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire. After graduating, she completed her residency in adult psychiatry at McLean Hospital at Harvard Medical School in Belmont, Massachusetts. Her postdoctoral fellowship in neurology was conducted at Stanford University School of Medicine, and her clinical fellowship in psychiatry was conducted at McLean Hospital at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.  She also completed a fellowship in neuroscience at Harvard Medical School.

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Dr. OstacherMichael J. Ostacher, MD, MPH, MMSc

Dr. Ostacher is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, where he is the Associate Director of the Bipolar and Depression Research Program. After graduating with Honors in the College of Letters at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Dr. Ostacher received his medical degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. He trained in Adult Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School at The Cambridge Hospital. He has a Masters in Public Health in Health Care Management from the Harvard University School of Public Health, and received a Masters in Medical Sciences as part of the Scholars in Clinic Science Program at Harvard Medical School. 

Dr. Ostacher's major research interest is bipolar disorder and comorbid substance abuse, and received a Career Development Award from the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) to study substance abuse and mood while the Associate Medical Director of the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Ostacher won National Association for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) Young Investigator Awards in 2005 and 2009 to study cognition in patients with bipolar disorder and substance abuse, and received a New Investigator Award in 2004 from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and is faculty for the University of Pittsburgh/NIMH Bipolar Career Development Institute.  He was the principal investigator at MGH for BALANCE, a multinational study of maintenance treatments for bipolar disorder at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and was the Site PI for the NIMH Bipolar Trials Network at MGH.  He is an Associate Editor of Evidence-Based Mental Health and is on the editorial boards of Bipolar Disorders and the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

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Dr. OstacherVictoria E. Cosgrove, PhD

Dr. Cosgrove received her B.A. in Psychology from Yale University in 1998. She worked as a clinical research coordinator in Boston and New York until 2003 when she began graduate school at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Until 2009 when she graduated, she developed clinical acumen in evidence-based psychotherapies for individuals and families and focused her research efforts on understanding the role that genetics may play in the development of mood disorders early in life. She moved to the Bay Area when she matched for Internship at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (2008-2009). She resumed her work with adolescents and families the following year, completing a three-year fellowship at Stanford (2009-2012).

Dr. Cosgrove is interested in how individuals respond both psychosocially and biologically to acute and chronic stress, how stress responsivity contributes to the development and progression of mood disorders, and whether psychotherapy may offer ways to alter stress responsivity. She is actively involved in multiple research projects both examining genetic and immunological factors involved in the development of mood disorders as well as treatment studies (group therapy, internet-based psychotherapy) for youth and adults with bipolar disorder and other mood psychopathology.

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E. Grace FischerE. Grace Fischer, BS

E. Grace Fischer, BS is the Clinical Coordinator with the Bipolar and Depression Research Program at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.  Ms. Fischer received her undergraduate degree in rehabilitation studies from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. She has worked in the mental health field since 1989 focusing on persons with severe chronic mental illnesses and for the last 16 years worked specifically in the coordination of medication treatment trials.  Before moving to the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in September, 2008, Ms. Fischer was the lead Clinical Research Coordinator of the Bipolar and Depression Research Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.  Ms. Fischer has coauthored several papers on the treatment of Bipolar Disorder with Dr. Suppes and presented her research findings at various conferences.

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Karishma Raju

RajuKarishma Raju joined the Bipolar and Depression Research Program at VA, Palo Alto Health Care System as a Research Assistant. Dr. Raju received her MD from MUHS, India. Prior to joining VA, Dr. Raju pursued research at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in infant neuro-development investigating effects of mobility on infant brain development and joined clinical trials design and management courses in USCS, Santa Cruz. Her areas of expertise include clinical trials and data management.

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GrimmDavid Grimm, BA/BS

David Grimm, BA/BS is a Research Assistant for the Bipolar and Depression Research Program at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. David attended the University of California, Davis and earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in General Psychology and a Bachelor’s of Science in Applied Statistics in 2011. During his time at UC Davis, David worked as a Research Assistant in the Human Memory Lab under Professor Andrew Yonelinas, where he gained valuable experience in working with human subjects. Upon graduation, David began volunteering for the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, working for the Million Veteran Program (MVP) and was a study coordinator for a trial examining if cognitive training can have benefits for individuals with schizophrenia. In May 2013, David began working for the Bipolar and Depression Research Program. During this time, he has worked on several projects, ranging from medication trials for individuals with bipolar disorder, to genomic trials for veterans with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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Alda Vicencio, RNVincencio

Alda Vicencio is a Registered Nurse at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in the Center for Clinical Research.  She has earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Saint Paul University in the Philippines in 1993.  Ms. Vicencio has been working for the VA Palo Alto for 17 years in areas such as Emergency Department, Primary and Specialty Clinics, Hospice and Long Term Care, Medical/Surgical Ward before coming to Research.

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Ami Patel, MPHPatel

Ami Patel is the NODES Administrator at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.  She supports the NODE team by focusing on the daily operations and standardization of individual CSP trials within VAPAHCS. She holds a MPH in Behavioral Sciences from Emory University.

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Jeff NagyNagy

Jeff Nagy is a Health Science Specialist in the Research Service Department at the Palo Alto VA Healthcare System.  Jeff completed his doctoral requirements in Global Health at Trident University International with a concentration in epidemiology and pedagogy and is currently working on his dissertation:  Military stress inoculation and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as moderated mediation in the relationship between combat exposure and social functioning.  In addition, Jeff has a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration from the University of New Orleans.  His research interests include the psychosocial effects of stress and trauma and health economics.  More specifically, he is interested in the interaction of stress inoculation with social reality constructions.  Jeff served with the US Army as a Combat Medic from 2006-10.

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Karen Bratcher, MSN, RNBratcher

Karen Bratcher, MSN, RN, is the manager of the VA Cooperative Studies Program NODES (Network of Dedicated Enrollment Sites) program at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.  Along with Dr. Suppes, Ms. Bratcher provides leadership to the NODES Initiative and adjunctively to the Bipolar and Depression mental health clinical trials in PTSD, depression, mood disorders and suicide.

Ms. Bratcher received both her BSN and MSN from the University of San Francisco. She holds certification as a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator and is an active member of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals. Ms. Bratcher has over 30 years experience working in clinical trials and other research related roles.  She has managed Phase I through Phase IV clinical trials. Before transition to the VA Cooperative Studies Program, Ms. Bratcher was the Manager of the Center for Clinical Research at VA Palo Alto; a designated patient centered unit that supports clinical research activities for both BA and Stanford physicians of multi subspecialties. Her knowledge and practice in clinical research is broad and extensive with clinical expertise in pharmacokinetics, exercise studies, study drug infusion studies, IRB processes and regulatory affairs.

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Elena NikolaevNikolaev

Elena Nikolaev received her M.D. from Bashkir State Medical University in Russia and had been practicing medicine for twelve years. After she immigrated to the U.S., Ms. Nikolaev passed USMLE exams and started working as a Health Science Specialist in the Research & Development department of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Because her area of expertise is broad, Ms. Nikolaev has been successfully working on various research project among which were a nation-wide study to create a genetic data-base (Million Veteran Program), Phase III Investigational Drug studies for schizophrenia treatment (ACLAIMS and ARRIVE), telemonitoring study for patients with dual diagnosis and others projects. In March 2013 Ms. Nikolaev joined the Bipolar and Depression Research Program to work with the Site Investigator Dr. Suppes and conduct a Cooperative Study Program study CSP #572 Genetics of Functional Disability in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Illness. She also serves as a back-up coordinator for another CSP study for treatment of depression and is currently the coordinator for CSP 547, a study for treatment for severe community acquired pneumonia in an ICU setting. She enjoys very much working in research and spending her spare time with her family and a dog Walther.

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