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

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

Other Research Studies

Prevalence of Psychotherapy Use Among Children and Adolescents Prescribed Antipsychotics


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)

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

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

An Inflammatory Profile Linked to Increased Suicide Risk

Collaboration with Michigan State University, University of Chicago, University of Maryland-Baltimore School of Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern and Van Andel Research Institute.


Safety and Utility of Electroconvulsive Therapy for Agitation and Aggression in Dementia

Collaboration with McLean Hospital (Harvard Medical School Affiliate, Belmont, Massachusetts), Duke University (Durham, North Carolina) and Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota)


News Stories

Forgiveness and Spiritual Distress in an Inpatient Psychiatric Setting

Collaboration with Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, California)

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

The Biological Triggers of Depression in Pregnancy (Kynurenine Pathway Metabolites in Perinatal Depression and Suicidality)

Collaborators include: National Institutes of Health, Spectrum Health (Grand Rapids, Michigan) and Van Andel Research Institute (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Highlights from the 2017 Depression Summit were featured on this episode of WZZM’s “The Exchange.”

2019 Depression Summit for Researchers and Clinicians

On April 26, 2019, Pine Rest and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (MSU) hosted their second Depression Summit in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to draw attention to the problem of depression and stimulate research. Together with MSU, Pine Rest is an associate member  of the National Network of Depression Centers.

Presenters included:

  • John Greden, MD, University of Michigan
  • Lawrence Park, MD, National Institute of Health / National Institute of Mental Health
  • Peter Zandi, PhD, Johns Hopkins University
  • Viviane Labrie, PhD, Van Andel Institute
  • Kara Zivin, PhD, University of Michigan
  • Eric Achtyes, MD, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services

SAVE THE DATE! The 2020 Depression Summit is scheduled for October 14, 2020.

  • Severe Pregnancy-Related Depression May Be Rooted In Inflammation

    Severe Pregnancy-Related Depression May Be Rooted In Inflammation

    A runaway, inflammatory immune response may be responsible for triggering severe depression during and after pregnancy, according to a new study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity. Not to be mistaken for the rapidly passing “baby blues,” which…

  • Can suicide risk be detected in the blood?

    Can suicide risk be detected in the blood?

    Five-year, $3.6 million federal grant to fuel search for biomarker-based methods to evaluate suicide risk. The project is the first longitudinal study of its kind, and is a collaboration between Van Andel Institute’s Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services’ Eric Achtyes, M.D., M.S., and Columbia University Department of Psychiatry’s John Mann, M.D.

  • Pine Rest Is Chosen As One Of Five Organizations To Participate In National Institute On Aging Study

    Pine Rest Is Chosen As One Of Five Organizations To Participate In National Institute On Aging Study

    It is a 5-year study to investigate the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat severe agitation and aggression in people with Alzheimer’s disease. The study was made possible by a 5-year award which is expected to total $11.8 million…

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“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