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Centre for Brain & Mental Health

Psychiatry Research Activities

Research in the Department of Psychiatry is integral to its clinical services, where scientist-clinicians build new knowledge about the origins and treatment of psychiatric disorders in childhood and adolescence. 

The department has strong research links with genetics, population health, neuroimaging and clinical pharmacology at both the University of Toronto and SickKids. The rich research environment is interdisciplinary and collaborative and involves graduate students from various University of Toronto programs such as the Institute for Medical Science and Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Inter-institutional collaborations (McGill, University of Montreal, New York University) characterize our approach.

Psychiatry has particular strengths in the study of biological aspects of mental illness and on evidence-based treatments in the clinic and community. Collaborative work currently focuses on behavioural genetics, cognitive science, developmental psychopathology, and the use of brain imaging in psychiatric diagnosis.

Scientists in the Department of Psychiatry participate in several interdisciplinary programs of the SickKids Research Institute:

  • The Centre for Brain & Mental Health brings together basic and behavioural neuroscience research to investigate the causes, treatment and consequences of complex childhood disorders. Two notable examples are ongoing studies of the molecular genetics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and reading disability and the application of functional neuroimaging to study cognition and psychopathology.
  • The Developmental & Stem Cell Biology Program studies the processes that control human development from conception to adult life in order to better understand the genetic and environmental bases for childhood disorders which affect both mental and physical health.
  • The Child Health and Evaluative Sciences Program seeks to understand the many factors that determine the health of children and how social and health-care policy can support better health outcomes. For example, one study is investigating the level and patterns of use of mental health care services by Ontario adolescents with psychiatric disorders. The results of this research may have important implications for clinical service delivery, policy and funding.

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