Task Forces

Active Task Forces

Big Data Analytics in Bipolar Disorder

Lead: Flavio Kapczinski, Canada; Ives Calalcante Passos, Brazil

Members:  Anne Duffy, Canada; Benicio Frey, Canada; Benno Haarman, Netherlands; Benson Mwangi, USA; Boris Birmaher, USA; Carlos Lopez Jaramillo, Colombia; Diego Librenza-Garcia, Brazil; Diego Hidalgo-Mazzei, Spain; Eduard Vieta, Spain; Elisa Brietzke, Canada; Erkki Isometsa, Finland; Lakshmi Yatham, Canada; Lars Vedel Kessing, Denmark; Luciano Minuzzi, Canada; Martin Alda, Canada; Raymond Lam, Canada; Rodrigo Mansur, Canada; Roger McIntyre, Canada; Tomas Hajek, Canada

Overview:  Big data is a broad term used to denote large volumes of complex measurements with high velocity and variety.  As opposed to traditional statistical methods big data analytics powered by machine learning allow predictions and stratification of clinical outcomes at the level of an individual subject.  We believe, therefore, that new statistical tools and technologies from the field of machine learning will be critical for anyone practicing medicine, psychiatry, and behavioral sciences in the 21st century.  This task force aims to put together leading researchers in the field of bipolar disorder, big data and machine learning.  The goals to be discussed would be how these techniques 1) will give clinicians a broad perspective about how clinical decisions such as selection of treatment options, preventive strategies, prognosis orientations, and conversion to bipolar disorder can be changed by big data approach; 2) will address clinical heterogeneity and help to build more consistent clinical phenotypes of bipolar disorder; 3) will empower researchers with a different way to conceptualize studies in BD by using big data analytics approach.  In addition, we also aim to discuss challenges in terms of what data could be used without jeopardizing individual privacy and freedom and the limitations of big data analytics.  


Lead: John Gottlieb, USA 

Members: Michael Bauer, Germany; Frank Bellivier, France; Marie Crowe, New Zealand; Bruno Etain, France; Ellen Frank, USA; Benicio Frey, Canada; Corrado Garbazza, Switzerland; Pierre Geoffroy, France; Namni Goel, USA; Robert Gonzalez, USA; Benno Haarman, Netherlands; Tone Henriksen, Norway; Maria Hidalgo, Brazil; Maree Inder, New Zealand; Harvard Kallestad, Norway; Seong Jae Kim, Korea; Raymond Lam, Canada; Klaus Martiny, Denmark; Kathleen Merikangas, USA; Gunnar Morken, Norway; Greg Murray, Australia; Jim Phelps, USA; Richard Porter, New Zealand; Rixt Riemersma, Netherlands; Phil Ritter, Germany; Raphael Schulte, Netherlands; Jan Scott, UK; Dorothy Sit, USA; Holly Swartz, USA; Joe Wu, USA; Xin Yu, China; Colleen McClung, USA; Daniel Smith, UK; Franzessco Benedetti, Italy; Ian Hickie, Australia; Kai-Florian Storch, Canada; Lauren Alloy, USA; Michael McCarthy, USA; Robin Nusslock, USA; Ybe Meesters, Netherlands

Overview statement:

The basic science of chronobiology, the study of biological rhythms, and its applications to the treatment of disease states, chronotherapy, has grown dramatically in the past forty years. This task force supports the chronobiological study of bipolar and other mood disorders and research on the chronotherapeutic treatment of affective illness.



  1. The first goal of this task force was to critically review the outcome literature of the major modalities of psychiatric chronotherapy: bright light therapy, wake therapy, dark therapy, melatonergic agonists, interpersonal social rhythm therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia adapted for bipolar disorders.  This review, published in Bipolar Disorders in 2019 highlighted the development of this sub-specialty and critically evaluated its strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and current position in existing practice guidelines.  

  2. The second goal of this task force will be to critically review the literature on chronobiologic assessment methods used in research and clinical practice.  This review will address sleep, chronotype, seasonality, and other biological rhythm assessment instruments, hormone assays, actigraphy, and clinical and commercial devices that can be used to objectively track activity, sleep and light exposure.  This effort is intended to present a state-of-the-art review of current and future chronobiologic evaluation methods that can be used by our field, and in so doing, establish a foundational toolkit for clinicians and researchers. 

  3. The third foundational effort of this task force is to conduct a review of the chronobiology of bipolar disorders per se.  Using a systems framework, this review will examine the literature on genetic, cellular, circuit-level, brain-region, and behavioral evidence of circadian disruption in bipolar illness.  In so doing, it seeks to clarify genotypic, endophenotypic and phenotypic levels of circadian dysfunction and their relationships.

In addition to these initial projects, this task force will promote ongoing educational efforts to inform the public and clinicians on the role of chronotherapeutic interventions in the management of mood disorders.


Older Adults with Bipolar Disorder (OABD) 

Leads:  Annemeik Dols, The Netherlands; Lisa Eyler, USA

Members: Osvaldo Almeida, Australia; Jean-Michel Azorin, France; John Beyer, USA; Hilary Blumberg, USA; PJ Chen, USA; Colin Depp, USA; Brent Forester, USA; Jennifer Gatchel, USA; Ari Gildengers, USA; Esther Jiminez, Spain;  Lars Vedel Kessing, Denmark; Andrew Olagunju, Canada; William Regenold, USA; Soham Rej, Canada; Martha Sajatovic, USA; Sigfried Schouws, The Netherlands; Sergio Strejilevich, Argentina; Shang-ying Tsai, Taiwan; Eduard Vieta, Spain

Overview Statement:

The world's population is aging, yet less attention has focused on understanding how bipolar disorder manifests in later life.  The task force is a group of international experts focused on improving outcomes for older-age patients with bipolar disorder (OABD).  The OABD Task Force was established in 2012, and is currently in what we may term Phase/Wave 3 - where one of the main activities is to pool data between international sites and work on projects together using previously collected archival data from completed studies (e.g. with the recent GAGE-BD grant 2018-2021).  Phase 1 was a task force report, while Phase 2 involved different OABD reviews of the literature.  Phase 4, it is hoped, would eventually be to create guidelines for prospective data collection for an OABD clinical research consortium that would conduct novel, global investigations.  In addition, several related projects can be embedded in the taskforce, with an overall goal to provide relevant and evidence-based guidance on diagnosis and treatment specific for OABD. 


  1. Create awareness of the clinical phenotype of aging in BD including cognitive and somatic comorbidities
  2. Provide information to people with OABD, their family members, and their treating clinicians about evidence-based practice for diagnosis, treatment, and improving quality of life outcomes
  3. Facilitate global collaborative work to understand the aging process for those living with bipolar disorder and the unique needs of people with OABD
  4. Investigate shared and unique features of OABD and its treatment across different countries

Click here to see the task force update.


Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

Leads:  Benjamin Goldstein, Canada; Eric Youngstrom, USA

Members: Boris Birmaher, USA; Gabrielle Carlson, USA; Christoph Correll, USA; Melissa Delbello, USA; ; Robert Findling, USA; Jean Frazier, USA; Mary Fristad, USA; Manon Hillegers, The Netherlands; Hyo-Won Kim, S. Korea; Joan Luby, USA; David Miklowitz, USA; Guillermo Perez-Algorta, UK; Janet Wozniak, USA; Cristian Zeni, Brazil 

Over the past two decades there has been tremendous growth in the scientific literature regarding bipolar disorder (BD) among children and adolescents (i.e., pediatric BD). There are now numerous gold-standard clinical trials of pharmacological agents for mania, an increasing evidence base for adjunctive psychosocial treatments, several large-scale prospective clinical cohort studies, representative epidemiologic studies (particularly focused on adolescents) with international representation, numerous neurocognitive and neuroimaging studies, and an accelerating number of biomarker studies being published. Despite the volume, quality, and international spectrum of the available literature, and despite general consensus of some of the field’s previously most divisive and controversial topics, there remains a perspective in the popular press, other branches of medicine, and even within the profession of psychiatry that the field of pediatric BD lacks evidence and is replete with controversy.

Therefore, the primary goal of the task force is to Distill (the extant literature), Dispel (myths or exaggerated assertions) in the field, and Disseminate (clinically relevant findings). A complementary goal is to highlight future directions that may best serve to mitigate the limitations of the existing evidence in this important area.

Expected outcomes:

  1. Scientific updates from the Pediatric BD Task Force at each ISBD annual meeting, accompanied by opportunities for discussion groups, clinically oriented sessions, and collaborative presentations with consumers and other stakeholders.
  2. A manuscript authored by Pediatric BD Task Force members, focusing on parsing themes of consensus from controversy, and on articulating a five-year agenda of research priorities.
  3. Increasing engagement of stakeholders including patients and families, educational institutions, consumer advocacy groups, other branches of medicine, allied health professionals, and teachers.


Prospective Offspring Studies and Treatment Trials (POST)

Lead(s):  Philip Mitchell, Australia (Chair) and Martin Preisig, Switzerland (Deputy Chair)

Members: Anne Duffy, Canada; Jan Scott, UK; Frank Bellivier, France; Boris Birmaher, USA; Elisa Brietzke, Canada; Melissa Green, Australia; Paul Grof, Canada; Manon Hillegers, The Netherlands;  Lars Kessing, Denmark; Josephine Loftus, Monaco; Willem Nolen, The Netherlands;  John Nurnberger, USA; David Miklowitz, USA;  Mark Ellenbogen, Canada; Rudolf Uher, Canada

A group of researchers who are involved in prospective offspring studies and/or undertaking studies of potential treatment interventions for high-risk offspring agreed that collaboration and dialogue between the research teams would be both timely and valuable. As such, a Task Force has been convened to establish peer support and foster learning between existing and/or novice groups and potentially to facilitate longer-term collaborative ventures and/or data sharing.


  1. To undertake a mapping exercise using Survey Monkey to gain an up-to-date picture of the ‘state of the art’ in terms of existing and planned offspring studies
  2. Click here to share study information:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/bipolaroffspring
  3. To provide a resource to ISBD Members, such as educational workshops and webinars
  4. To examine similarities and differences in study methodologies, findings and types of interventions employed
  5. To develop a collaborative network between groups to enhance the opportunities for future research or data sharing.  


Role of Lithium in Bipolar Disorders 

Leads: Michael Bauer, Germany; Emanuel Severus, Germany

Members: Martin Alda, Canada; Jay D Amsterdam, USA; Ross J Baldessarini, USA; Anne Berghöfer, Germany; Michael Berk, Australia; Alberto Bocchetta, Italy; Charles Bowden, USA; Thomas Bschor, Denmark; Cynthia Calkins, Canada; Joseph Calabrese, USA; André F Carvalho, Brazil; De-Maw Chuang, USA; Andrea Cipriani, UK; Anne Duffy, Canada; Kostas Fountoulakis, Greece; Mark Frye, USA; John Geddes, UK; Michael Gitlin, USA; Ana Gonzalez-Pinto, Spain; Guy Goodwin, UK; Paul Grof, Canada; Tomas Hajek, Canada; Lars Vedel Kessing, Denmark; Ralph Kupka, The Netherlands; Ute Lewizka, Germany; Rasmus Licht, Denmark; Carlos López Jamamillo, Colombia; Rodrigo Machado-Vieira, USA; Gin Malhi, Australia; Husseini Manji, USA; Bruno Müller-Oerlinghausen, Germany; Rene Ernst Nielsen, Denmark; Andrew Nierenberg, USA; Willem Nolen, The Netherlands; Isabella Pacchiarotti, Spain; Andrea Pfennig, Germany; Robert Post, USA; Janusz Rybakowski, Poland; Gary Sachs, USA; Thomas Schulze, Germany; Christian Simhandl, Austria; Jair Soares, USA; Trisha Suppes, USA; Mauricio Tohen, USA; Leonardo Tondo, USA; Eduard Vieta, Spain; Allan Young, UK; Trevor L Young, Canada; Carlos Zarate, USA

To provide input to clinicians on the evidence base, the role, and the best use of lithium in patients with bipolar disorders.  



Leads: Martin Alda, Canada; Flavio Kapczinski, Canada; Ralph Kupka, The Netherlands

Members: Jorge Almeida, USA; Ana Andreazza, Canada; Vincent Balanza, Spain; Ross Baldessarini, USA; Michael Berk, Australia; Boris Birmaher, USA; David Bond, USA; Eliza Brietzke, Brazil; Ines Chendo, Portugal; USA; Anne Duffy, Canada; Benicio Frey, Canada; Iria Grande, Spain; Tomas Hajek, Canada; Manon Hillegers, The Netherlands; Rodrigo Mansur, Brazil; Robert Post, USA; USA; Jan Scott, UK; Marcia Kauer Sant’Anna, Brazil; Mauricio Tohen, USA; Gustavo Vazquez, Canada; Eduard Vieta, Spain; Lakshmi Yatham, Canada


Targeting Cognition

Lead: Kamilla Miskowiak, Denmark

Members: Caterina del Mar Bonnin, Spain; Christopher Bowie, Canada; Kate Burdick, USA; Andre Carvalho, Brazil; Peter Gallagher, UK; Gregor Hasler, Switzerland; Lars Kessing, Denmark; Benny Lafer, Brazil; K. Eve Lewandowski, USA; Carlos Lopez-Jaramillo, Colombia; Anabel Martinez-Aran, Spain; Roger McIntyre, Canada; Richard Porter, New Zealand; Scot Purdon, Canada; Ayal Schaffer, Canada; Sumiyoshi Tomiki, Japan; Ivan Torres, Canada; Tamsyn Van Rheenen, Australia; Eduard Vieta, Spain; Lakshmi Yatham, Canada; Allan Young, UK; Annemiek Dols, The Netherlands; Paul Stokes, UK


There are no clinically available treatments for cognitive impairments in bipolar disorder despite intense research interest into novel treatments and a pressing clinical need for cognition treatments to improve prognosis, enhance functional recovery and reduce societal costs.  The lack of effective treatments is partially due to major methodological challenges in the field.  The objectives of the task force are therefore to create:

  1. For researchers: Guidance for the methodology and design of cognition trials in bipolar disorder based on the methodological lessons learnt from extant cognition trials.
  2. For clinicians: Clinical recommendations on how to address cognitive impairments in the clinical management of bipolar disorder. 
  3. For patients: Patient booklet with information about the nature of cognitive impairments in bipolar disorder and a practical guide on how to facilitate cognitive capacity (sleep, alcohol, breaks, etc.) and for how to compensate for the cognitive problems in daily life. 



Leads: Benjamin Goldstein, Canada; Jess Fiedorowicz, USA

Members: Bernhard Baune, Australia; David Bond, USA; Pao-Huan Chen, Taiwan; Lisa Eyler, USA; Andrea Fagiolini, Italy; Fabiano Gomes, Brazil; Tomas Hajek, Canada; Jessica Hatch, Canada; Susan McElroy, USA; Roger McIntyre, Canada; Urban Osby, Sweden; Miguel Prieto, Chile; Louisa Sylvia, USA; Shang-Ying Tsai, Taiwan 


The goals of this task force are to summarize the state of the literature regarding vascular factors and bipolar disorder, and to articulate an agenda for future progress.  It is well recognized that bipolar disorder is associated with elevated vascular risk, that this risk exceeds what can be explained by traditional cardiovascular risk factors (e.g. obesity, hypertension), that this risk is associated with bipolar disorder subtypes and with mood symptom burden, and that this risk is observed internationally.  Perhaps less recognized are the implications that the bipolar-vascular link has on biomarker discovery, novel therapeutic approaches, and stigma reduction efforts.  This task force will undertake efforts to consolidate, distill, contextualize, and critique the extant literature, and will take steps toward knowledge translation and dissemination through a primary manuscript, web-based lecture series, and engagement of stake holders including colleagues in other branches of medicine, allied health professions, and consumer advocacy groups, for the purpose of maximizing impact.  


Women's Health

Lead: Aysegul Ozerdem, Turkey

Members: Veerle Bergink, The Netherlands; William Bobo, USA; Irma Corlay-Noriega, Mexico; Rodrigo Dias, Brazil; Arianna DeFlorio, USA; Benicio Frey, Canada; Bart Geerling, The Netherlands; Wendy Marsh, USA; Roger McIntyre, Canada; Trine Munk-Olsen, Denmark; Natalie Rasgon, USA; Jan Scott, UK; Verinder Sharma, Canada; Anja Stevens, The Netherlands; Michael Thomson, Canada


  1. To define and increase awareness on female gender specific problems in bipolar disorder from bio-psycho-social perspectives
  2. To promote problem focused collaborative research, and developing treatment, monetarization and safety guidelines for treatment of women in reproductive and menopausal ages. Bipolar illness and improving quality of care of our patients from a bio-psycho-social perspective 
  3. To become a leading force in the field in exploring unmet medical and psycho-social needs, and finding solutions to these needs

Expected Outcomes:
The task force has recently chosen to focus on pregnant, peri- and post-partum women for the time being. For the short term, we expect to gather data from different parts of the world on how pregnant and lactating women with bipolar disorder are being treated. For the mid-term, we expect to provide a consensus of experts on how to guide treatment and care of this special population.



Lead: Eric Youngstrom, USA and  Ketil Oedegaard, Norway 

Members: Abdullah Aldaoud, Saudi Arabia; Carlo Altamura, Italy; Yatan Pal Singh Balhara, India; Robert Belmaker, Israel; Lesley Berk, Australia; Michael Berk, Australia; Harriet Birabwa, Uganda; Sibel Cakir, Turkey; Steven Dilsaver, USA; Ole Bernt Fasmer, Norway; Juan Francisco Galvez, Colombia; Christine Oedegaard, Norway; Danilo Quiroz, Chile; Stephanie Salcedo, USA; Manuel Sanchez, Mexico; Christian Simhandl, Austria; Mauricio Tohen, USA; Gustavo Vazquez, Argentina

Objectives: The International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) initiated a task force in 2012 to examine issues related to the cultural challenges in the management of bipolar disorder under the direction of Prof. Ketil Odegaard and with the support of ISBD Past President, Prof. Michael Berk.  The initial mandate of the task force ended with the production of a qualitative survey conducted by Prof. Odegaard looking at cultural aspects of differences in diagnosis and treatment in different parts of the world.  The next phase of this group will focus on the quantitaive examination of the translation and validation of the survey.  




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