McLean Hospital Launches Clinical Trial of Ketogenic Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

A $2 million gift from Baszucki Group will support translational research for early-phase illness

February 20, 2024

Baszucki Group announced the launch of a new partnership with McLean Hospital for a clinical trial of a therapeutic ketogenic diet for bipolar disorder.

A cross-disciplinary team at the McLean OnTrack™ program will investigate nutritional ketosis as both a novel treatment strategy and a critical tool for understanding the underlying mechanisms of bipolar disorder.

The new effort builds on decades of cutting-edge science implicating disordered metabolism as a key driver of psychiatric illnesses like bipolar disorder.

The $2 million gift to McLean Hospital is the first grant in Baszucki Group’s new research program: ReThink Bipolar: Researching Therapeutic Integration of Nutritional Ketosis in Bipolar Disorder.

The grant provides support to pioneering McLean scientists with a track record of studying neurometabolism in psychiatric illness.

The clinical trial will be led by Virginie-Anne Chouinard, MD, staff psychiatrist and director of research at McLean OnTrack, a program for first episode psychosis at McLean Hospital, and an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Medical professional in scrubs using a futuristic touch screen that shows an image of a brain

The study will enroll fifty participants with early bipolar disorder in an outpatient, randomized controlled trial to assess various multimodal neuroimaging markers and metabolic measures.

It will assess the impact of a ketogenic diet on energy metabolism, oxidative stress, neurometabolic markers, insulin resistance, and psychotic and mood symptoms with the goal of improving the treatment trajectory of individuals with early-phase bipolar disorder. More information on study recruitment can be found on

“Our group has spent over a decade studying the metabolic pathways implicated in psychiatric disorders, especially in the context of early intervention for psychotic illness,” said Dost Öngür, MD, PhD, William P. and Henry B. Test Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, chief of the Division of Psychotic Disorders, and director of the Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Research Program at McLean Hospital.

“This study is deeply synergistic with our increasing focus on the intersection of metabolic and mental health here at McLean Hospital. Groundbreaking research is leading to advancements in clinical care for psychiatric conditions,” Öngür said.

“We are thrilled to partner with one of the leading psychiatric hospitals in the world on this important new therapeutic approach to treating bipolar disorder that gave our son his life back,” said Jan Ellison Baszucki, co-founder and president of Baszucki Group.

“These grants will not only foster an understanding of the metabolic roots of bipolar disorder, but will generate new evidence and clinical perspectives on ketogenic therapy.”

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