Our People

Advancing mood disorders research

Dalhousie’s Mood Disorders Research Group is home to a strong team of clinical researchers and scientists, all working to advance the understanding, prevention, treatment and outcomes for mood disorders across the life cycle.

Our team

Martin Alda, MD, FRCPC

Martin Alda, MD, FRCPC, is a professor of psychiatry and Killam Chair in Mood Disorders at Dalhousie University, and the head of the Mood Disorders Program at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. He received his medical degree from Charles University in Prague and trained in psychiatry at Charles University and at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Alda’s research focuses on three main areas:

  • mapping genes for bipolar disorder using innovative phenotypic approaches
  • better understanding of the brain structure and function in the development and progression of mood disorders
  • optimization of long-term treatment and outcome in people with bipolar disorder

See Dr. Alda's full profile.

Claire O’Donovan, MB, FRCPC

Claire O’Donovan, MB, FRCPC, is a psychiatrist with the Mood Disorders Program and an associate professor with the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University. She has held various roles including:

  • director of ambulatory care
  • director and co-founder of the Bipolar Clinic
  • member of the Mood Disorders Program
  • board member of CANMAT, the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments
  • contributor to the Canadian Bipolar Guidelines

Dr. O’Donovan’s interest in mood disorders spans clinical work, teaching and clinical research. She has received grants and published papers in service delivery, illness education, and use of medication, genetics and clinical trials.

See Dr. O'Donovan's full profile.

Cynthia Calkin, MD, FRCPC

Cynthia Calkin, MD, FRCPC, is a psychiatrist with a background in medicine. Her research focuses on the overlap between medical conditions such as obesity, type II diabetes and insulin resistance (“pre-diabetes”), and bipolar disorder.

Current roles

  • Principal investigator for the Treating Insulin Resistance to Improve Outcome in Bipolar Disorder (TRIO-BD) study
  • Member of the International Group for the Study of Lithium (IGSLi)
  • Member of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) Task Force
  • Member of the Pharmacogenomics of lithium response in Bipolar Disorder (PGBD) research group.

See Dr. Calkin's full profile.

Julie Garnham, RN, BN

Julie Garnham, RN, BN, is a research nurse manager who has worked with the Mood Disorders Research Group since its inception 20 years ago. She has clinical and research expertise in adult mood and psychotic disorders spanning the past 38 years, holding various clinical and managerial positions over that time. She manages the many grant-funded and clinical trial research projects of this group.

Claire Slaney, RN

Claire Slaney, RN, is a research nurse coordinator who has worked with the Mood Disorders Research Group since the development of the Maritime Bipolar Registry in 2000.

Over her career, she has developed clinical expertise in the field of inpatient infant, child and adolescent care, including nine years as a staff nurse on the child and adolescent inpatient psychiatry unit at the IWK. She is involved in the coordination and recruitment of the various research studies.

Barbara Pavlova, PhD

Barbara Pavlova, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and expert in cognitive-behavioural therapy. She examines and treats comorbid anxiety disorders in people living with bipolar disorder.

Dr. Pavlova is conducting the first treatment study of comorbid social anxiety disorder in people with bipolar disorder. She also designs psychological early interventions to prevent mood, anxiety and psychotic disorders in youth.

See Dr. Pavlova's full profile.

Tomas Hajek, MD, PhD

Tomas Hajek, MD, PhD, is a clinical psychiatrist and researcher at the Mood Disorders Clinic. His main research interest lies in investigating the effects of various clinical variables, including:

  • genetic vulnerability
  • illness severity
  • accompanying metabolic disorders
  • exposure to medications on brain structure in patients with bipolar disorders

He has been a principal investigator of a number of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies in both ill patients and their family members for a number of years.

See Dr. Hajek's full profile.

Lukas Propper, MD, FRCPC

Lukas Propper, MD, FRCPC, serves as an associate professor and director of education at Dalhousie’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and as a staff psychiatrist at the IWK’s Department of Psychiatry in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

He is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with expertise in

  • autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders
  • developmental psychopathology
  • pediatric psychopharmacology

Dr. Propper joined the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University in 2003 after completing his Fulbright Fellowship at Yale Child Study Center. He is a long-standing collaborator with Dr. Martin Alda on a genetic study of offspring of bipolar parents, and on the Families Overcoming Risks and Building Opportunities for Well-being (FORBOW) study with Dr. Rudolf Uher.

See Dr. Propper's full profile.

Rudolf Uher, MD, PhD

Rudolf Uher, MD, PhD, is a psychiatrist and Canada Research Chair in Early Intervention. Dr. Uher’s research focuses on testing whether early intervention could prevent mood disorders and psychosis, and finding out what treatment works for whom.

Dr. Uher is the principal investigator of Families Overcoming Risks and Building Opportunities for Well-being (FORBOW) and the CDRIN Maritimes Registry. In 2014, Dr. Uher received the Max Hamilton Memorial Award for his innovative research on the treatment of depression.

See Dr. Uher's full profile.

Joanne Petite

Joanne Petite has been working at the Nova Scotia Health Authority (formerly Capital District Health Authority) for 23 years, primarily in an administrative assistant capacity. She is proud to be a member of the Mood Disorders Group as an administrative research assistant and has been in this role for the past 7 years.