Deedie Rose's $5 million gift furthers depression research

Deedie and Rusty Rose

By Sharon Reynolds

Prominent Dallas businessman, former Texas Rangers co-owner, and outdoorsman Rusty Rose touched countless lives through a philanthropic partnership he shared with his beloved wife of 50 years, Deedie. The couple supported a multitude of charities out of a true desire to make their community better.

They lived life to its absolute fullest – until their story took a tragic turn. In 2016, at the age of 74, Mr. Rose ended his life after a decades-long struggle with severe clinical depression. Mrs. Rose is hopeful that her $5 million gift to further research at UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute will eliminate the devastating effects of depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders for those affected and their families.

“Deedie’s gift brings new hope to untold thousands whose lives are disrupted by depression and other mood disorders,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “We are deeply grateful to honor the memory of her husband through the important work of UT Southwestern's Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care.”

The burden of depression
Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, Professor of Psychiatry and Chief of the Division of Mood Disorders at UT Southwestern, said depression is a brain disease that has not received enough attention.

“In the U.S., about 1 in 6 people are susceptible to developing a mood disorder, and almost everyone has a personal connection to someone who will. Unfortunately there is no standardized, methodical approach for diagnosing and treating these disorders,” Dr. Trivedi said. “Only half of the people with depression ever get diagnosed. For many, there is about an eight- to 10-year gap between the emergence of symptoms and a confirmed diagnosis. Even for patients who are fortunate enough to receive a diagnosis, they often undergo therapies with little or no effect on their unique conditions.”

Depression often begins early in life and can persist throughout a lifetime. Approximately 1 in 11 children experience some form of depression before the age of 14. The negative effects of depression on the developing adolescent brain undoubtedly have long-term consequences on their physical, emotional, and social well-being as adults.

Accelerating discovery
As Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care (CDRC), Dr. Trivedi is working to accelerate discoveries into the causes of and treatments for depression, bipolar disorder, and related conditions and to achieve better diagnostic, treatment, and prevention strategies.

“Recent research has shown that depression and other mood disorders come in varying degrees and types, which we believe can be measured and treated like any other disease. We’re working to develop biomarkers that will shorten the path to recovery by allowing physicians to match patients with treatments that best fit their unique biological signature,” he said. “In order to accomplish these goals, the Center has launched two large longitudinal research projects that promise to help us develop blood and brain tests. This generous gift from Mrs. Rose provides critical support for these efforts.”

The CDRC promotes universal mental health awareness programs and screenings through partnerships with North Texas clinical practices. The Center has implemented VitalSign6, an easy-to-use, web-based iPad application that adds depression and anxiety screening into routine medical checkups conducted in primary care, pediatric, and specialty clinics. Once patients are screened positive for depression, doctors connect them with the best evidence-based care.

The Center also delivers youth-targeted clinical services and community programs to improve resiliency and help recognize, treat, and prevent depression. One project follows teens and young adults from middle school through college – when youth are most vulnerable for depression – to identify mood management issues.

Ending depression in Dallas
Fueling Mrs. Rose’s passion to strengthen the mental health landscape in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is her own familiarity with the toll that depression takes on families. She has served as a longtime board member of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, dedicated to changing the condition of mental health in Texas. Mrs. Rose has also served as an advocate for Metrocare Services, the largest provider of mental health services in North Texas.

In addition to her $5 million gift to support mental health screenings, prevention, and research activities in the CDRC, Mrs. Rose challenged partners from all different systems of care – including UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute, Texas Health Resources, Children’s Health, and Cook Children’s – to work collaboratively to deliver mental health care to everyone in need. The CDRC is partnering with the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute on “Ending Depression in North Texas.” (see box below)

People with depression and bipolar disorder currently live an average of 10 years less than others, a statistic that Dr. Trivedi hopes to change. “My dream is that we will have tests for the general population so that we can immediately identify people at risk as well as introduce measures to prevent the onset of the illness. For those who are already depressed, we would treat them immediately and aggressively so that they can have a full and normal life,” he said.

Ending Depression in North Texas

“Together we are seeking to achieve something no region in America has ever imagined – committing to provide the best practice care and leading-edge research necessary to one day end depression in North Texas – and engage institutional stakeholders and the general public in the goal of ending untreated depression in our community. With the generous support of Deedie Rose, the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care of the O’Donnell Brain Institute and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute have partnered to advance this community goal of ending depression, beginning in Dallas County in 2019.”

Dr. Andy Keller, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Trivedi holds the Betty Jo Hay Distinguished Chair in Mental Health and the Julie K. Hersh Chair for Depression Research and Clinical Care.