Pictured from left to right: Qiong Sha, Ph.D., of VAI, Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D. of VAI, Eric Achtyes, M.D., M.S. of Pine Rest, LeAnn Smart of Pine Rest.

VAI, Pine Rest study shows biomarkers can predict depression in pregnancy

Findings from a new study led by scientists at Van Andel Institute and Pine Rest show that biomarkers in the blood can help predict and identify severe depression in pregnancy. The team’s findings could give physicians a much-needed tool to identify women who may be at risk for depression and better tailor their care throughout pregnancy.

Co-senior authors are:

  • Eric Achtyes, M.D., M.S., Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
  • Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., Van Andel Institute

“Our findings are an exciting development and an important first step toward using these types of methods more widely to help patients.”

— Eric Achtyes, M.D., M.S., staff psychiatrist at Pine Rest.

Research at Pine Rest

Research offers the opportunity for our staff and patients to be involved in novel and innovative approaches to psychiatric care. By partnering with the biotechnology community, industry and academia-based research programs, Pine Rest demonstrates its dedication to advancing the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders.

The Pine Rest clinican staff and MSU College of Human Medicine faculty members have been published in several high impact scientific journals on depression, schizophrenia, dementia, bipolar disorder, bioethics, epidemiology, inflammation, smoking cessation, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and platelet function, and have worked on projects involving pharmacogenomics, electroconvulsive therapy, new depression screening tools and psychotropic medications, biomarkers of depression, and the impact of forgiveness and spirituality on treatment outcomes. Clinical staff and faculty members also serve as reviewers for numerous peer-reviewed journals as well as members of institutional review boards and NIH study sections.

Some of our recent research collaborations have included partnerships with Duke University, Fuller Theological Seminary, Mayo Clinic, McLean Hospital (Harvard Medical School Affiliate), Michigan State University, National Institutes of Health, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pittsburgh, Van Andel Research Institute and Washington University Saint Louis.

For more information, our research staff can be reached at 616.222.4592 or

Pine Rest Research Studies

VOCATIONS study: Validation of Computer Adaptive Testing for Mental Health (CAT-MH) in an Outpatient Setting 

Collaboration with University of Chicago (Chicago, IL) and University of Pittsburg (Pittsburg, PA)


Validation of Computerized Adaptive Testing in an Outpatient Nonacademic Setting: The VOCATIONS Trial.

VOCATIONS addendum study: Correlating Depression Symptoms and Suicidality to Inflammatory Biomarkers of Depression

Collaboration with Van Andel Research Institute (Grand Rapids, Michigan)


Evaluation of the Clinical Impact of the Antidepressant Pharmacogenomic Algorithm in an Outpatient Setting – A Randomized, Double Blind Pilot Study

PRELAPSE Study: Comparison of a Long-acting Injectable Antipsychotic vs Clinician’s Choice Early in Treatment to Break the Cycle of Relapse in Early Phase

Collaboration with Cherry Health (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Improving Care and Reducing Cost (ICRC) Study – Schizophrenia

Collaboration with Cherry Health (Grand Rapids, Michigan)



Examining Spirituality and Mental Health Outcomes in Psychiatric Inpatients

Collaboration with: Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, California)

Clarifying How Views of the Afterlife, Hope, and Meaning Influence Suicidal Ideation in Psychiatric Inpatients

Collaboration with: Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, California)

Effects of Successful Treatment of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders on Copper and Zinc Levels.

Funded by Pine Rest Foundation Wondergem grant.

A Longitudinal Study of Inflammatory Pathways in Depression.

Funded by National Institutes of Health

Collaboration with: Van Andel Research Institute (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

News Stories

Herpes Simplex and Psychiatric Symptoms.

Funded by Pine Rest Foundation Wondergem grant.

Collaboration with: Van Andel Research Institute.

Bio-K Study: A Single-Arm, Open-Label, Biomarker Development Clinical Trial of Ketamine for Non-Psychotic MDD and Bipolar I and II.

Collaboration with: National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC)

Environmental Factors of Depression and Suicide (Geocoding).

Collaboration with: University of Michigan.

Five-year, $3.6 million federal grant to fuel search for biomarker-based methods to evaluate suicide risk

In the first study of its kind, scientists from Pine Rest, Van Andel Institute, and Columbia University will seek to identify blood-based biomarkers for suicide risk, laying the foundation for a test that could allow for earlier, life-saving intervention. Enrollment for the five-year study is slated to begin enrolling at Pine Rest in October.

Lead Investigators are:

  • Eric Achtyes, M.D., M.S., Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
  • Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., Van Andel Institute
  • John Mann, M.D., Columbia University Department of Psychiatry

“We’ve now found a way that is acceptable for people from all sorts of background to get help.” -Eric Achtyes, MD


→ARTICLE: Schizophrenia Patients More Willing to Manage Symptoms Using Smartphones
Dr. Eric Achtyes