Ryan Licht Sang Luncheon Celebrates Hope



By Judy Carmack Bross






The word hope filled the room at the Ryan Licht Sang Foundation recent Medical Briefing Luncheon, always the prettiest spring luncheon and with the most informative format.  “We are here to sell you hope today,” Dr. Andrew Nieremberg said. Others noted that prying the secrets of the brain from Mother Nature is difficult, but not impossible.


Alexandra Lyons Singer and Jen Lindgren


Dr. Faith Summersett Williams, Dr. Jamie Pasquale and Florence Ann Romano


The 17th annual luncheon entitled “Bipolar Disorder:  Innovation-The Way Ahead” featured a panel discussion with Dr. Nierenberg and Robin Nusslock PhD.  Dusty Sang, co-founder with his wife Joyce of the foundation honoring their son Ryan who died at the age of 24 of early-onset Bipolar Disorder, moderated the panel.  


Luncheon Co-Chairs Marla London and Amy Morro


Dusty Sang and Dr. Andrew Nierenberg


Dusty Sang told us recently:


“We always strive to bring the best and brightest doctors and researchers to our Chicago Bipolar Medical Briefing Luncheons to discuss the latest scientific and clinical developments. After 17 years, our friends and supporters are very well-educated about Bipolar Disorder and they have helped the Foundation to address the stigma of this illness of the brain in Chicago through knowledge and understanding, and to support cutting-edge research at major institutions that has the potential of changing the course of this illness. Each year we learn more about how Bipolar Disorder works and can be treated; and each year we are encouraged that breakthrough discoveries are just over the horizon.”


Dr. Molly Pachan and Veronica Clements


Deborah Farr and Wende Fox Lawson


Dr. Nusslock, Park Krausen and Co-Chair Marla London


Co-chaired by Marla London, Amy Morro and Suzanne Rose, the luncheon featured fabulous eyelet lime tablecloths, peonies in profusion and, in appreciation of guests’ busy schedules, remarks during a delicious lunch. 


Shining Star recipients Liz and Kent Dauten


Kent and Liz Dauten, who for the past 15 years, have supported many of the country’s leading research and community mental health projects including the Dauten Family Center at Massachusetts General, received the Shining Star Award, the Foundation’s highest honor. 


In honoring the Dautens, Dusty Sang remarked that their focus shifted from what they could do to get better treatment and solutions to become healthier to how to lead purposeful and meaningful lives. Surprise remarks by their daughter Jenna Toan overjoyed the honorees.


Liz and Kent Dauten with their family


Dr. Nierenberg serves as the Director of the Dauten Family Center for Bipolar Treatment Innovation and as Co-Director of the Center for Clinical Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Nusslock, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University, has received three “Quest for the Test” proof of concept research grants from the Sang Foundation in collaboration with the Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation.


Abby McCormick O’Neil and Carroll Joynes


Caryl Dillon and Helen Melchior


Michael Pollock and Dr. Sarah Panahi


Dr. Nusslock told the audience that 70 percent of all bipolar patients are diagnosed incorrectly at some point during their illness and that diagnosis can sometimes take as long as ten years.  He added his hopes that current studies of the brain’s circuits will lead to a time “when patients not only survive but flourish.”


Dr. Aron Janssen and Dr. Andrea Spencer


Leslie Kennedy and Joyce Sang


Joyce Sang has inspired so many by her words:  “We didn’t seek out the path we have traveled in Ryan’s honor.  We do so in order that other children don’t have to be Ryan and that other parents don’t have to be us.”


Alexa James and Marny Zimmer


Lawrence Hedblom and Louise Lane


For further information on the work of The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation visit questforthetest.org