The IGSLI was founded in 1988 by Mogens Schou (Aarhus-Denmark), Bruno Müller-Oerlinghausen (Berlin-Germany), and Paul Grof (Ottawa-Canada). The chief goal of the group was to work on controversial topics related to lithium treatment using excellent methods and working with a large number of patients – something that could only be accomplished with a multicentre approach.
Within one year, the centres in Vienna and Prague – all of which have long and excellent experience in lithium research – joined the group. Later, the Zurich group and, after German reunification, the Dresden group began their cooperation with IGSLI. The latter, represented by Werner Felber, is well-known for research on the efficacy and health economic impact of lithium in patients on long-term treatment. In 2009 the Cagliari group (Sardinia) joined IGSLI.
For individual projects, the regular IGSLI centres often work together with guest experts from other research institutions and clinics.
The IGSLI centres all have long and outstanding experience in the long-term treatment of patients with affective disorders with lithium. The centres’ research is based on a.) the precise, standardized, and computer-based documentation of the course of illness before and during treatment, and b.) on modalities of treatment, which are comparable for all centres. The centres agree upon the same principles, which are embodied in the letter of understanding.
In 2002, the group converted to a registered association. The statutes of the group are based on the former letter of understanding. The president, two secretaries, and a treasurer are elected by the members every two years.
The group meets once a year at a research conference to plan and discuss running projects and to prepare publications. These conferences are regularly accompanied by a teaching seminar and public lectures.
The IGSLI is dedicated to a European research tradition characterized by precise documentation and analysis, as well as by the long-term commitment and cooperation of members and staff.