High-level research in psychiatry
The Dalhousie Department of Psychiatry is home to five academic chairs: The Killam Chair in Mood Disorders, the Dr. Paul Janssen Chair in Psychotic Disorders, the Canada Research Chair in Early Intervention, the Canada Research Chair in Addictions and Mental Health, and the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Psychopathology and Youth Mental Health.
The Killam Chair in Mood Disorders
Martin Alda, MD, FRCPC
The Killam Chair in Mood Disorders was established in 2007 for the purpose of integrating research into the basic mechanisms of mood disorders and their treatment with excellent clinical care.
The focus of Dr. Alda’s group is on primary mood disorders. Bipolar disorder and depression are highly heritable, affect young people, lead to high morbidity and mortality, and can be more or less successfully treated. Three lines of enquiry - mapping genes for these conditions, examining how the genetic risk translates into behavioural and clinical features of the illness, and linking the risk factors with the treatment response, brain structure and function - are at the core of his research program. To this end, we use clinical, molecular-genetic, biochemical, brain‑imaging, and neuropsychological methods in studies of patients and their family members. The research has been funded by the CIHR since 1997 as well as by Genome Quebec, NARSAD, NSHRF, and Stanley Foundation.
Canada Research Chair in Psychopathology and Youth Mental Health
Sandra Meier, PhD
Dr. Sandra Meier is our newest Canada Research Chair. Dr. Meier's research focuses on leveraging modern technology to improve mental health care in youth. With her team she has developed an app that passively gathers information on social contacts, screen time, physical activity and sleep of youth via built-in sensors of smartphones. The goal is to better identify youth at risk for new onsets and poor outcomes of mental disorders early on and to advance the development personalized intervention programs. Dr. Meier is also interested in risk factors and long-term outcomes of internalizing disorders, with a particular focus on transgenerational effects.
Canada Research Chair in Addictions and Mental Health
Sherry Stewart, MD, FRCPC
Dr. Sherry Stewart holds the CIHR Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Addictions and Mental Health. This research chair is focused on concurrent emotional and addictive disorders. Those with an emotional disorder (i.e., anxiety-related or mood disorder) are two-to-six times more likely to develop an addictive disorder (i.e., substance use or gambling disorder). Those with co-occurring emotional disorders and addictive disorders experience more severe symptoms, poorer treatment response, and greater relapse rates than those with either disorder alone. With Canadian Foundation for Innovation funding, and a newly renovated bar lab in her Mood Anxiety and Addiction Comorbidity Lab (MAAC Lab), Dr. Stewart’s research program is designed to advance understanding of biopsychosocial factors contributing to the complex interplay between emotional disorders and addictive disorders, and to develop, evaluate, and disseminate into practice, effective interventions for these concurrent disorders.
Dr. Paul Janssen Chair in Psychotic Disorders
Phil Tibbo, MD, FRCPC
The Dr. Paul Janssen Chair in Psychotic Disorders, named for the late Dr. Paul Janssen, one of the 20th century’s most innovative and inspiring pharmaceutical researchers, was created to lead an internationally recognized program of research into the causes and treatments of psychotic disorders. Dr Tibbo became the first Dr Paul Janssen Chair in 2008.
The responsibilities of the Chair include expanding the department’s research and research capacity in psychotic disorders. Biological and psychosocial research in early detection and intervention is a focus as well as improving public awareness and knowledge of psychotic disorders.
In addition to having its own funding and infrastructure, the position offers opportunities to link with regionally and nationally based funding programs to facilitate additional recruitment and infrastructure to support the Chair’s research activities.
Canada Research Chair in Early Intervention
Rudolf Uher, MD, PhD, MRCPsych
Dr. Rudolf Uher joined the department early in 2012 and is our first Canada Research Chair. Dr. Uher’s research focuses on early intervention to prevent severe mental illness.
Dr. Uher works with young people and families with the aim of promoting mental health and preventing severe mental illness. He leads the Families Overcoming Risks and Building Opportunities for Well-being (FORBOW) study (link: www.forbow.org). The long-term aim of this work is to reduce the burden of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Dr. Uher is also interested to find out which treatment works for which patients with depression.