IMH Scientific Advisory Committee

 

The IMH Scientific Advisory Committee is comprised of independent members from diverse institutions with expertise across all research disciplines relevant to mental health.  The Committee supports the IMH by providing review of applications for IMH scholarship and fellowship funding, which are sought from eligible candidates once a year.

 

Co-Chair Dr. Robert Post

Throughout his career, including 35 years at the NIMH, and 20 of those as Chief of the Biological Psychiatry Branch, Dr. Post has focused on bettering the understanding and treatment of refractory unipolar and bipolar illness. He founded the International Stanley Foundation Bipolar Network (now the Bipolar Collaborative Network). Currently, he is in private practice and attempting to address childhood-onset bipolar illness.

Dr. Post helped pioneer the use of the anticonvulsant carbamazepine as treatment for lithium-resistant patients with bipolar disorder. Prior to leaving the NIMH, he and his group were exploring nonconvulsive brain stimulation with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for treatment of unipolar and bipolar depression. Animal studies have enabled him to re-conceptualize affective illness recurrence and evolution at the level of cyclic alterations in gene expression. These views emphasize the importance of early, long-term treatment of mood disorders to prevent progressively increasing vulnerability to episode recurrence, cycle acceleration and treatment resistance.

Co-Chair Dr. Ayal Schaffer

Ayal Schaffer (MD, FRCPC) is Head of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, andDeputy Psychiatrist-in-Chief, at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada.He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, VicePresident Education for the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, and on the Boardof the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT).

Dr. Schaffer’s research interests involve the management of bipolar disorder andtreatment-resistant depression, understanding suicide risk and prevention, and examiningpopulation-health trends in the treatment of mental illness. Dr. Schaffer has been aprincipal or co-investigator of studies funded by the Ontario Mental Health Foundation,Canadian Institute of Health Research, National Institute of Mental Health (U.S.),Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, PSI Foundation, American Foundationfor Suicide Prevention, the Stanley Medical Research Institute, and others.

Dr. Schaffer co-authored the CANMAT / ISBD Guidelines for the Management ofBipolar Disorder as well as co-leading the CANMAT Task Force on Comorbidity inMood Disorders. He recently chaired the International Society for Bipolar DisordersTask Force on Suicide. Dr. Schaffer has an outpatient and inpatient practice atSunnybrook, where he is also chair of the Department of Psychiatry QualityImprovement Committee. He is actively involved in teaching at the undergraduate,postgraduate, and continuing educations levels.

Dr. Stephanie Ameis

Dr. Stephanie Ameis is the inaugural O’Brien Scholar within the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at CAMH and Sick Kids and a clinician-scientist within the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH and the Program in Brain and Mental Health at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto She is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Ameis’ clinical work focuses on providing evidence-based assessment and care for children, youth and emerging adults with autism spectrum disorders. The main goals of her research are to: (i) use brain imaging to learn how variation in brain circuit structure and function relates to behaviour as a means to develop new targets for treatment and (ii) use brain imaging to understand how existing and novel (i.e., medications, behavioural therapies, brain stimulation) interventions/treatments work.

Dr. Ana Cristina Andreazza

Dr. Andreazza is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology & Toxicology and Psychiatry and holds a holding Tier II Canada Research Chair in Molecular Pharmacology of Mood Disorders. She is cross-appointed as a collaborator Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Dr. Andreazza is an Advisor for the Dauten Family Center for Bipolar Treatment Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital, a consultant for the Bipolar Biobank at Mayo Clinic and as a member of the Board of Directors from the International Society of Bipolar Disorder.

Dr. Andreazza received PhD in Biochemistry from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, RS, Brazil. She has published over 140 research articles with an h-index factor of 45. She is the recipient of several prestigious research awards, including the 2018 Canada Top 40 Under 40 and has received funding from the Brain and Behavior Foundation (NARSAD), the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Ontario Mental Health Foundation and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. Her research focuses on the understanding of the role of redox modulations and mitochondrial dysfunction in mental illness, especially in mood disorders.

Dr. Andreazza research focuses on the understanding of the role of mitochondrial function in mental illness, especially in mood disorders. As neurons depend on mitochondrial function, dysfunctional mitochondrial during neurodevelopment is expected to impact neurotransmission with potentially crucial implications for mood disorders. Currently, Dr. Andreazza is evaluating the impact of mitochondrial dysfunction on neurotransmission using 3D brain organoids generated from induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with bipolar disorder and/or mitochondrial disease.

Dr. Paul Arnold

Dr. Arnold, MD, PhD is a the inaugural Director of the Mathison Centre for Mental Health & Education and the Alberta Innovates Translational Health Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health at the University of Calgary. He is an Professor with the Departments of Psychiatry, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary and a child and adolescent psychiatrist practicing at Alberta Children’s Hospital. His research focuses on how genetic and environmental risk factors interact to influence the development of child onset neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Rosemary C. Bagot

Dr Bagot earned her BSc (Hons) in Psychology at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at McGill University, identified synaptic and transcriptional mechanisms by which early life adversity regulates life-long differences in glutamatergic transmission in hippocampus. During her postdoctoral research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, USA she established pathway-specific roles of glutamatergic inputs to the nucleus accumbens in stress regulation of emotional behaviors and identified key gene networks underpinning the functional stress-induced adaptations in these circuits. In 2016, she joined the Department of Psychology at McGill University as an Assistant Professor in Behavioural Neuroscience. She is a William Dawson Scholar, an Associate Member of the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, a Primary Investigator at the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health and a member of the Concordia Centre for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology. Research in the Bagot lab uses a multi-disciplinary approach integrating in vitro electrophysiology, in vivo optogenetics, in vivo calcium imaging and next-generation sequencing in robust mouse behavioural models to gain insight into neural circuit mechanisms of depression. Specific projects focus on identifying pre-existing mechanisms of individual differences in stress susceptibility and circuit mechanisms of depression-relevant cognitive phenotypes.

Dr. Glen Baker

Glen Baker is currently Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta. He did his undergraduate degree in Pharmacy, an MSc in medicinal chemistry and a PhD in Biological Psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan. This was followed by postdoctoral research (with a fellowship from the MRC of Canada) at the MRC Neuropharmacology Unit at the University of Birmingham, England before joining the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta in 1977. He is a former Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and a founding member of the Neurochemical Research Unit at that university, a past president of the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology (CCNP), a former Tier I Canada Research Chair and a former Associate Vice-President of Research for the University of Alberta.

Dr. Baker is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and was a University of Alberta Distinguished University Professor. He was Series Co-Editor for the book series Neuromethods for 20 years and has served on the editorial boards of several journals. He has published over 375 peer-reviewed papers, 425 abstracts and numerous editorials, book chapters, invited review articles and abstracts and was co-holder of 3 patents. He has been well funded for many years by various national and provincial granting agencies and has had numerous research collaborators locally, nationally and internationally.

His main research interests are mechanisms of action and metabolism of psychiatric drugs used in treatment of mood and anxiety disorders and schizophrenia; biomarkers in psychiatric and neurological disorders; analytical neurochemistry; and drug development, with a focus on neuroprotection. Dr Baker has supervised or cosupervised over 40 graduate students and 23 postdoctoral fellows as well as numerous summer students and psychiatry residents who have done research projects with him, and he has served on supervisory or examination committees for over 160 graduate students other than his own. He has served on many grant panels and advisory boards as well as organizing committees for several national and international conferences in neurochemistry and neuropsychopharmacology.

His awards include the College Medal and Innovations in Neuropsychopharmacology Research Award of the CCNP, a McCalla Research Professorship, a Killam Professorship, a University of Alberta Killam Research Award for Excellence in Mentoring, a REACH Team Award from Capital Health and an Alumni Award of Achievement from the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Baker was one of the alumni to receive the 100 Alumni of Influence Award during the University of Saskatchewan Centenary (2007) and in 2014 was the recipient of a Centennial Alumni of Influence Award from the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan. In 2015 he received the Medal of Honor of the Alberta Medical Association and in 2018 the Department of Psychiatry Resident Research Award for supervision of residents.

Dr Benjamin I. Goldstein

Dr. Goldstein is a child-adolescent psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry, Pharmacology, and Psychological Clinical Science at the University of Toronto, as well as Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the Director of the Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder and Director of Research in the Department of Psychiatry at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and a Senior Scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute. Dr. Goldstein’s efforts focus on teenagers with, or at familial risk for, bipolar disorder. His team seeks to identify clinically relevant biomarkers, and innovative prevention and treatment strategies that focus simultaneously on physical and mental health. Dr. Goldstein has authored over 150 scientific articles, and has received international awards for his research. His research is currently funded by grants from Brain Canada, CIHR, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science. An active educator, Dr. Goldstein serves as Director of the Clinician Scientist Program in the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry.

Dr. Paul Kurdyak

Dr. Kurdyak completed his medical degree, psychiatry residency training, and PhD in clinical epidemiology at the University of Toronto. He is a staff psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and is the Director of the Health Outcomes and Performance Evaluation (HOPE) Research Unit within the Social and Epidemiological Research Program. Dr. Kurdyak is also the Lead of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Program at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Science (ICES). Dr. Kurdyak provides oversight on the evaluation of complex mental health interventions and provincial strategies through his role as Director of Health Outcomes for the Medical Psychiatry Alliance and as a consultant to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care and Health Quality Ontario.

Dr. Alex McGirr

Alexander McGirr is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Calgary, where he holds the Campus Alberta Innovates Chair in Neurostimulation. He completed his residency training in psychiatry and his PhD in neuroscience at the University of British Columbia. His research program involves using non-invasive neurostimulation modalities to probe brain function and as a treatment for Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorders. He simultaneously runs a pre-clinical imaging program using mouse models to understand pathological changes that occur in chronic stress, and other risk factors for mood disorders in humans.

Dr Michael Meaney

Dr Meaney is a leading researcher and laboratory director at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, an Adjunct Senior Investigator at the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, a James McGill Professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Neurology & Neurosurgery at McGill University, and the Director of the Program for the Study of Behaviour, Genes & Environment at McGill University.

Dr Meaney’s laboratory focuses on epigenetics, the biological basis by which environmental factors produce an enduring effect on genomic structures and function, and the resulting phenotype variations, including mental illnesses and learning disabilities. These studies focus on epigenetic modifications to the genome that regulate gene activity, altering or switching them ‘on and off’. This work involves both basic science and translational research models, ranging from studies of molecular mechanisms to brain-development and -function in humans. Dr Meaney is also the director of the Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability & Neurodevelopment (MAVAN) project, a Montreal-based longitudinal study of paediatric epigenetics, and a primary investigator in Singapore’s largest birth cohort study, Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO).

Dr. Andrew A. Nierenberg

Andrew A. Nierenberg, M.D. graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY. After completing his residency in psychiatry at New York University/Bellevue Hospital, he studied clinical epidemiology at Yale University as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar. Dr. Nierenberg then joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School, first at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts and then at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where he holds his current positions. He is also Honorary Professor in the School of Medicine, Faculty of Health at Deakin University, Geelong Australia.

 

Dr. Nierenberg has published over 475 papers and has been listed in The Best Doctors in America for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders in every edition since 1994. In 2000, he was awarded the Gerald L. Klerman Young Investigator Award and in 2014 the Gerald L. Klerman Senior Investigator Award by the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance. In 2013, Dr. Nierenberg was awarded the prestigious Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Colvin Prize for outstanding achievement in mood disorders research. In 2014, he was awarded the Mentorship Award for Exceptional Mentorship in the Research Arena at MGH. In 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, he was listed among the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds by Clarivate Analytics in recognition of ranking among the top 1% of researchers for most cited papers in psychiatry worldwide with over 25,000 citations and an h-factor of 78.

Dr. Nierenberg’s primary interest is innovative treatments for bipolar disorder. He lectures extensively, both nationally and internationally, teaches, supervises, maintains an active clinical practice, consults to industry, and conducts clinical trials funded by federal, foundation, industry, and philanthropic sources.. Dr. Nierenberg is the deputy editor of Depression and Anxiety and editor of Psychiatric Annals. He is a member of the editorial boards of over 15 journals including the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, Journal of Affective Disorders, Australian New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, and Bipolar Disorders and serves as a peer reviewer for over 35 psychiatric journals.

Dr. Lena K. Palaniyappan

Dr. Lena Palaniyappan is an Associate Professor at the Departments of Psychiatry and Medical Biophysics at the Western University, and Director of the Prevention and Early Intervention in Psychoses Programme (PEPP), London, Ontario. He completed his MD at Stanley Medical College, Chennai, India followed by PhD in Translational Neuroimaging at the University of Nottingham, UK. His research team Neuroimaging in Mental Illnesses is based at the Robarts Research Institute, Western University.

Dr. Scott B. Patten

Dr. Patten obtained a medical doctorate (MD) from the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada) in 1986 and subsequently a specialist certification (FRCPC) in Psychiatry in 1991. He completed a PhD in epidemiology at the University of Calgary in 1994. Currently, he is a Professor in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, where he teaches MDCH740, Advanced Epidemiology. His research is concerned with the descriptive epidemiology of common mental disorders (especially depression) and medical-psychiatric comorbidity in the Canadian population. He currently holds the Cutherbertson and Fischer Chair in Pediatric Mental Health at the University of Calgary and is the Editor Emeritus of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

Dr. Soham Rej MD, MSc

Soham Rej completed his medical school (2009) and psychiatry residency at McGill (2014), followed by a geriatric psychiatry clinical and research fellowship at the University of Toronto (2017). He is an assistant professor at McGill. He started working as a Geriatric Psychiatrist and Junior Clinician-Scientist at the Jewish General Hospital/Lady Davis in Feb 2017.

Soham's research had primarily examined medication-related physical comorbidity late-life mood disorders, with a focus on lithium and the kidney. Since 2016, he has a secondary interest examining clinical trials of mind-body interventions (e.g. mindfulness) in the treatment of late-life mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders. He has 75 peer-reviewed publications. He is grateful to the Fonds de Recherche en Quebec Sante (FRQS) Clinician-Scientist program, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and other agencies for their continued grant support.

Mark Sinyor

Dr. Mark Sinyor is a Psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and an Associate Scientist at the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute. His clinical focus is on treatment of mood and anxiety disorders and he coordinates Sunnybrook’s Mood Disorders Clinic. He is the founder of PROGRESS (the Program of Research and Education to Stop Suicide) at Sunnybrook and sits on the board of directors of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. His main research focus is on suicide prevention and mental health literacy. He has more than 40 peer-reviewed publications in high impact factor journals including the British Medical Journal, American Journal of Psychiatry, World Psychiatry and the Canadian Medical Association Journal. His research has been featured in Time Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, BusinessWeek, CBC’s the National and Radio One, CTV and Global News. In 2017, he won the Canadian Psychiatric Association’s Early Career Achievement in Psychiatry Award.

Dr. Philip Tibbo

Dr. Tibbo received his B.Sc. (Hons) from Mount Alison University in Sackville, NB, and his MD from Memorial University of Newfoundland. He completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Alberta, and following this joined the staff at the University of Alberta Hospital as a clinician and researcher. He was instrumental in the development of and co-directed both the Bebensee Schizophrenia Research Unit and the Edmonton Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic.

In 2008 Dr. Tibbo was named the first Dr. Paul Janssen Chair in Psychotic Disorders, an endowed research chair, at Dalhousie University in Halifax NS. He is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry with a cross-appointment in Psychology at Dalhousie University and an Adjunct Professor in Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta. He is also Director of the Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Program (NSEPP) and co-director of the Nova Scotia Psychosis Research Unit (NSPRU).

Dr. Tibbo’s publications are primarily in the area of schizophrenia, and his current foci of study include individuals at the early phase of, and individuals at risk for, a psychotic illness. Dr. Tibbo’s areas of research include application of in vivo brain neuroimaging techniques to study psychosis as well as research interests in co-morbidities in schizophrenia, psychosis genetics, addictions and psychosis, stigma and burden, pathways to care, education, and non-pharmacological treatment options. He is President of the Canadian Consortium for Early Intervention in Psychosis (CCEIP), helping to advance early intervention care at the national level. He is funded by local and national peer reviewed funding agencies and well published in leading journals. Dr Tibbo is a recipient (2015) of the Michael Smith Award from the Schizophrenia Society of Canada for research and leadership in schizophrenia, recipient of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health’s Champion of Mental Health Research/Clinician award in 2017 and most recently the recipient of the 2018 Regional Prix d’excellence – Specialist of the Year - Region 5 by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Dr. Simone Vigod

Dr. Simone Vigod is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and Lead of the Reproductive Life Stages (RLS) Program at Women’s College Hospital. Her background includes an Honours BSc in Psychology from McGill University (1999), an MD from the University of Toronto, UofT (2003) and psychiatric residency at UofT (FRCPC, 2009). To build her research program, she undertook a Masters of Science in Clinical Epidemiology from the UofT Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) and is now a faculty member therein. Dr. Vigod’s research aims to address disparities in health and health care for individuals with psychiatric disorders, with a specific focus on women across the lifespan and on equity in access to treatment for diverse populations. She is an Adjunct Scientist at ICES in Toronto, Ontario where she conducts her population-based epidemiological research focused on the health of women with mental illness and their children. In 2018, she obtained the Shirley A. Brown Memorial Chair in Women’s Mental Health Research at Women’s College Research Institute at Women’s College Hospital where she runs the clinical intervention part of her research program that focuses on novel health system interventions to improve access to and uptake of care for women with mental illness. Her research discoveries have been highlighted at the public level, with significant coverage from international and national media. Dr. Vigod also has a significant presence related to advocacy for quality of care at the provincial and national level that will guide implementation of interventions to improve the quality of mental health care delivery across the country.

Dr. Tak Pan Wong

Dr. Tak Pan Wong is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University and a Researcher at Douglas Mental Health University Institute. He obtained his PhD in Pharmacology in 2001 from McGill University, followed by postdoctoral training at UBC. Since 2006, he has established his research laboratory at Douglas Institute to investigate hippocampal mechanisms that underlie behavioral changes in animal models for psychiatric disorders. He has obtained the Young Investigator award from NARSAD and career awards from FRSQ (Junior I,II and senior).