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The Society has a membership consisting of mental health professionals, patients and their family members representing 50 countries. The mission of the Society is to advance the treatment of all aspects of bipolar disorder, thereby improving patient outcomes and quality of life, through fostering international collaboration in education and research. The Society hosts biennial professional meetings and offers a range of educational programs that support its mission. The official Society journal is Bipolar Disorders: An International Journal of Psychiatry and Neurosciences.
ISBD was launched at the 3rd International Conference on Bipolar Disorder, in Pittsburgh, USA on June 17, 1999 by David J. Kupfer and Thomas Detre of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  Several months later in September 1999, the official peer reviewed Society journal, Bipolar Disorders: An International Journal of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, published its first issue. In 2000, Bipolar Disorders was first tracked by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), and in 2001 MEDLINE and Index medicus began indexing the journal's content. In 2005, the journal was rated 11th out of 94 peer-reviewed psychiatric journals with an impact factor of over 4.8. 
The ISBD held its first meeting in Sydney, Australia in February 2004 with over 400 delegates in attendance. The Society held it second meeting in August 2006 in Edinburgh, Scotland with over 600 attendees.
The Society currently has over 725 members in 50 countries with an elected board representing 10 countries and is growing steadily. The ISBD is a major source for emerging research and clinical data on bipolar disorders and is the only bipolar-focused, research-oriented Society working to bring this data to patients, families, and other mental health professionals working on the front lines of bipolar care.
- The Psychiatric Trainee Support program offers psychiatric trainees a complimentary two-year membership in the Society in order to enhance knowledge of bipolar disorder among this group, narrow the gap between bipolar research and clinical practice, and ultimately to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for patients with bipolar disorder. These supported memberships are open to psychiatric residents, postgraduate students and junior faculty up to the Assistant Professor or equivalent level with less than five years as faculty in their career trajectory. We seek to support 70% of trainees from developing countries in keeping with the Society’s expanded mission to assist trainees in under-served countries.
- The Samuel Gershon Awards for Junior Investigators, named in honor of Dr. Samuel Gershon, past ISBD President and pioneer of early lithium research, offer 4 awards for original research submissions. Awards are based on the originality of the content, as well as the significance of the findings reported, and are evaluated by an international scientific panel under the auspices of the ISBD. These awards are open to psychiatric trainees, postgraduate students and junior faculty up to the Assistant Professor rank from around the world. The awards are presented in conjunction with the Society’s biennial meeting where the winners present their research in a special session showcasing the work of junior people in the field.
- The ISBD Research Fellowship for Junior Investigators provides an opportunity for the recipient to travel to another facility to get training in a particular type of research methodology (i.e. brain imaging, genetics, clinical trials, etc.). The Fellowship is intended to cover up to 6 months support for salary, travel, or some combination of these costs as they are incurred in pursuit of additional training. This could take the form of various summer programs, participation in smaller prospective studies, or through some other opportunity which will provide the requisite skill to enhance the investigator’s knowledge in the selected research methodology and address a specific research question.
The third biennial Conference of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders was held in India in January 2008. Future conferences will be held in São Paulo, Brazil in 2010 and Istanbul, Turkey in 2012. The conference features plenary and parallel sessions, rapid communications, and an advocacy session and provides updates on topics such as epidemiology, pharmacotherapy, psychotherapies, genetics and neurobiology, imaging research, and bipolar disorder in special populations. The meeting also serves as a forum for the ISBD membership meeting and a venue for the Society’s awards presentations.
Educational resources for membersEdit
The ISBD Global is the official quarterly newsletter of the ISBD and a valuable resource for consumers and professionals alike. The Global features Society updates, a calendar of events, book reviews, regional chapter updates and events, original research of ISBD trainees, and original articles by ISBD members. The Global is a vehicle used to bridge the gap between consumers and professionals, allowing all ISBD members to contribute and comment on various topics of interest.
Bipolar Disorders – An International Journal of Psychiatric and Neurosciences is the official journal of the Society. Since its inception in 1999, the Journal has made an enormous impact on the biological psychiatry community and continues to be a valuable resource for authors and researchers alike.
Bipolar Disorders: Understanding the Full Spectrum is an educational video (available in VHS only) released in 2003 by the ISBD. The piece provides an insightful look into the world of bipolar disorder as seen through the eyes of patients, their families, as well as medical professionals. A new version of this video, complete with recent interviews and updated information was released on DVD in late fall of 2007. (Running time approximately 20 minutes.)
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