European Network of Bipolar Research Expert Centre (ENBREC): a network to foster research and promote innovative care.
Henry C., Andreassen OA., Barbato A., Demotes-Mainard J., Goodwin G., Leboyer M., Vieta E., Nolen WA., Kessing LV., Scott J., Bauer M., ENBREC study group None.
Bipolar disorders rank as one of the most disabling illnesses in working age adults worldwide. Despite this, the quality of care offered to patients with this disorder is suboptimal, largely due to limitations in our understanding of the pathology. Improving this scenario requires the development of a critical mass of expertise and multicentre collaborative projects. Within the framework of the European FP7 programme, we developed a European Network of Bipolar Research Expert Centres (ENBREC) designed specifically to facilitate EU-wide studies. ENBREC provides an integrated support structure facilitating research on disease mechanisms and clinical outcomes across six European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and the UK). The centres are adopting a standardised clinical assessment that explores multiple aspects of bipolar disorder through a structured evaluation designed to inform clinical decision-making as well as being applicable to research. Reliable, established measures have been prioritised, and instruments have been translated and validated when necessary. An electronic healthcare record and monitoring system (e-ENBREC©) has been developed to collate the data. Protocols to conduct multicentre clinical observational studies and joint studies on cognitive function, biomarkers, genetics, and neuroimaging are in progress; a pilot study has been completed on strategies for routine implementation of psycho-education. The network demonstrates 'proof of principle' that expert centres across Europe can collaborate on a wide range of basic science and clinical programmes using shared protocols. This paper is to describe the network and how it aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of research in a neglected priority area.