HealthRhythms, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer
Ellen Frank is a co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of HealthRhythms, a biotech start-up focused on mobile technology to measure, evaluate, and improve behavioral health. She is also Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the former director of the Depression and Manic Depression Prevention program at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.
For more than 30 years Dr. Frank and her colleagues studied interventions for mood and anxiety disorders and the pathophysiology underlying response to those interventions. These studies are notable for their emphasis on sleep and circadian rhythms as mediators and moderators of treatment response. Her 1990 study of maintenance therapies in recurrent unipolar depression, in which both EEG sleep and 24-hour cortisol were evaluated as treatment moderators and mediators, is now considered a classic in the field. She and her colleagues then developed interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), a treatment for bipolar disorders that is based on a specific hypothesis regarding the impact of social routines, as measured by the Social Rhythm Metric (SRM) on circadian function and mood in this illness. They demonstrated the preventive efficacy of IPSRT and, consistent with their social zeitgeber hypothesis, found that the prophylactic efficacy of IPSRT was significantly related to the degree to which participants increased the regularity of their social routines. The results of these studies have been the inspiration for the focus of HealthRhythms’ mobile technology and provide the strong scientific basis for their products.
An internationally-recognized expert on mood disorders and their treatment, Dr. Frank served on the Mood Disorders Workgroup of the American Psychiatric Association Task Force on DSM-5 and is an Honorary Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. In 1999, she was elected to the National Academy Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine).