Pine Rest and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Collaborate in a National Effort to Understand and Treat Depression

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Feb. 10, 2016) – Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine jointly are a new associate member of the National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC). The NNDC is a non-profit network of leading clinical and academic centers of excellence in the U.S. working to transform the field of depressive illnesses and related mood disorders.

The NNDC’s mission is to develop and foster connections among members to use the power of a network to advance scientific discovery and to provide stigma-free, evidence-based care to patients with depressive and bipolar illnesses.

NNDC Power of Collaboration


“We believe that by joining the NNDC, Pine Rest will both have an opportunity to tap into cutting edge advances in depression care, as well as give back to the field of behavioral health through collaboration around research and the sharing of best practices,” says Mark Eastburg, Ph.D., Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services president and CEO. “Our ultimate goal is to improve the health of those in the communities we serve. NNDC membership will be one important tool that will help us reach that goal.”

The NNDC brings together experts from across the nation who:

  • Actively pursue initiatives in education, research, clinical care delivery, and community outreach to improve quality of life of patients suffering from mood disorders
  • Engage in interdisciplinary collaborations both within their home institution and across the network to accelerate dissemination of research
  • Identify opportunities for multi-site studies and emerging partnerships to advance the diagnosis and treatment of depressions and bipolar illnesses
  • Promote measurement based care, quality improvement, and research through the NNDC Mood Outcomes program available for use at NNDC member sites.

Pat Rinvelt, NNDC executive director, is pleased to welcome MSU College of Human Medicine and Pine Rest to the NNDC. “MSU and Pine Rest are joining the NNDC at an exciting time. Our growing collaborative network will be enriched by their membership and their impact will be amplified through the network, accelerating important work being done in the field of mood disorders.”

Dr. John Greden, the Executive Director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center and Founding Chair of the NNDC emphasized that “To conquer depressive and bipolar illnesses, we need to develop ‘personalized, precise’ treatments—those interventions that are most effective for the different underlying causes that lead to mood disorders.” He observed that members of the “MSU College of Human Medicine and Pine Rest teams have special expertise in selected new areas, such as the emerging field of inflammatory depressions and that their expertise would aid the entire Network.” Commenting on the NNDC’s growth from 16 original Centers of Excellence to 24, he reiterated that “there is huge power in collaborations; they are the keys to future breakthroughs.”

The work to join NNDC began three years ago. Pine Rest has developed and enhanced several clinical programs that target patients with difficult-to-treat depressions including: a new Treatment Resistant Depression Consultation Program, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Clinic and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) Clinic. Pine Rest also just celebrated the third anniversary of its unique Mother and Baby Program for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders starting in pregnancy up to three years postpartum—one of only three in the country. Pine Rest’s services cover the full spectrum of care, from 200 inpatient beds to 20 outpatient clinics treating 43,692 adults, adolescents and children annually, a large majority of whom present with depressive illnesses and related mood disorders.

The partnership with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in this joint membership is synergistic on many levels because of the current collaboration on a variety of projects. Pine Rest is a teaching hospital of MSU College of Human Medicine, developed its psychiatry residency program together, and Pine Rest’s medical staff members serve as clinical faculty in the college’s Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. MSU brings the power of a Big Ten research university and a growing medical school with a state-wide reach. Both institutions are already working together on several research projects as well.

“We are very excited to join this partnership between Pine Rest, MSU and the NNDC,” said Aron Sousa, M.D., interim dean, MSU College of Human Medicine. “The NNDC offers tremendous opportunities for collaboration with clinical and academic research throughout their national network. In addition, this partnership offers our medical students exposure to the newest approaches to treating mood disorders.”

Vitaliy Voytenko, Psy.D., a Pine Rest psychologist, chair of the Pine Rest Best Practice Work Group and clinical assistant professor at MSU College of Human Medicine, and Eric Achtyes, M.D., a Pine Rest psychiatrist who serves as the college’s director of its Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine will work together with the NNDC staff in defining this new relationship.

MSU and Pine Rest have collaborated on several National Institutes of Health (NIH), industry and foundation research projects to further expand the understanding of depression and its treatment:

  • The Evaluation of the Clinical Impact of the Antidepressant Pharmacogenomic Algorithm in an Outpatient Clinical Setting: A Randomized Double Blind Pilot Study.
  • Field Testing of the Computerized Adaptive Testing – Depression Inventory (CAT-DI).
  • The Biological Triggers of Depression in Pregnancy.
  • Use of Antidepressants near Delivery and Risk of Postpartum Hemorrhage: a Cohort Study of Low Income Women in the United States.
  • Response Rates in Patients with Symptoms of Depression to ECT at the Pine Rest ECT Clinic.
  • Evaluating the Clinical Effectiveness of a Specialized Perinatal Day Treatment Program for Women.
  • The Impact of Forgiveness and Spiritual Distress in an Inpatient Psychiatric Setting.

The Pine Rest MSU College of Human Medicine faculty members have been published in several high impact scientific journals on depression, bipolar disorder, bioethics, epidemiology, inflammation, smoking cessation, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and platelet function, and have worked on projects involving novel antidepressants including agomelatine and sirukumab. Faculty members also serve as reviewers for numerous peer-reviewed journals, and are members of NIH study sections and review committees.

The Pine Rest MSU College of Human Medicine joins a network that includes 24 member centers affiliated with Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Partners HealthCare-Harvard Medical School; Duke University; Emory University; Florida State University; Johns Hopkins Medical School; Massachusetts General Hospital, Partners HealthCare-Harvard Medical; Mayo Clinic; McLean Hospital, Partners HealthCare – Harvard Medical School; Medical University of South Carolina; Baylor College of Medicine; Stanford University; the universities of California San Francisco and San Diego State; University of Cincinnati & Lindner Center of HOPE; University of Colorado Denver; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Iowa; University of Louisville; UMass Medical School/UMass Memorial Health Care; University of Michigan; University of Pennsylvania; University of Texas Southwestern; Weill Cornell Medical College.

About Pine Rest

Pine Rest, one of the five largest free-standing behavioral health providers in the U.S., has served the greater Grand Rapids and national community since 1910. It offers a full continuum of services including inpatient and partial hospitalization, residential and outpatient services, addiction treatment and recovery, extensive child and adolescent programs, senior care services, as well as specialized assessment and treatment clinics. In addition to the main campus in Grand Rapids, Pine Rest also has 18 outpatient locations throughout West Michigan including two in Iowa. For more information, go to

About MSU College of Human Medicine

Since 1964, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine has drawn upon MSU’s land grant values to educate exemplary physicians, discover and disseminate new knowledge and respond to the needs of the medically underserved in communities throughout Michigan. The medical school’s statewide footprint includes seven community campuses: Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Midland Regional, Southeast Michigan, Traverse City and the Upper Peninsula Region. The college is home to centers of excellence in Parkinson’s disease research and women’s health research. For more information, visit the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Web site at

About the National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC)

The NNDC is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) network that unites the nation’s leading academic institutions to advance knowledge, improve care and drive the national conversation on depression and related mood disorders.

Our Priorities:

The NNDC provides the platform for bringing the best minds together, regardless of their location, to achieve these broad objectives:

  • Standardization of protocols for screening, diagnosis, and treatment, including establishing evidence-based practices for self-management of the symptoms of these diseases
  • Large-scale research to move our understanding forward, encompassing basic or laboratory research, clinical studies, and translational research to rapidly move findings from the research lab to the clinical setting.
  • Improved access to care for all populations through a “hub and spoke” system, anchored by Centers of Excellence at major academic medical centers that disseminate evidence-based information and expertise to practitioners in local communities, eventually realizing the vision of a future free of the burden of depressive illnesses.
  • Education and outreach on a national level to mobilize policy, advocate for public and private support, and supplant stigma with understanding.

Expertise, innovation, collaboration, clinical trials of new treatments, long-term follow-up studies to maintain wellness and more coming together to deliver the cures we seek “Through the Power of a Network”—“Through the Power of the NNDC.”