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Centre for Brain & Mental Health

The Centre for Brain & Mental Health (C-BMH) is a virtual hub at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) that cultivates the seamless multidisciplinary integration of research, education, and clinical care to improve the outcomes of children and youth living with brain and mental health disorders.  

The C-BMH focuses on building novel collaborations across paediatric neurosciences and mental health disciplines, programs, and services to drive innovation. 

By pioneering new understanding, therapies, and approaches to care for the developing brain, and promoting and executing interdisciplinary and interprofessional activities, the C-BMH strives to globally exceed its reputation as innovators in paediatric neurosciences and mental health care, both at SickKids and the our scientific communities. 

We lead, discover and innovate to transform brain and mental health in children and youth.

  • We bring leading brain & mental health clinicians, educators, and researchers together into a community of scholars 
  • We discover the fundamental basis of brain & mental health through innovative research 
  • We translate discoveries to accelerate improved brain & mental health outcomes for children, youth, and their families 
  • We implement new paradigms to prevent and treat brain & mental health conditions in children and youth 
  • We inspire, educate, and mentor future generations of brain & mental health leaders 

Staff

The C-BMH is a multidisciplinary and interprofessional group of researchers, physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals from the areas of Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neurosciences & Mental Health, Psychiatry, Psychology, and Social Work.

The breadth and depth of the C-BMH is far-reaching and its members can be found throughout numerous divisions, departments and programs within the Hospital, Research Institute and the broader community.

  • Dr. Steven Miller
    • Head, Division of Neurology, Centre for Brain & Mental Health 
  • Ms. Christina Bartha
    • Executive Director, Brain & Mental Health Program, Centre for Community Mental Health  
  • Dr. George Ibrahim
    • Staff Neurosurgeon, Division of Neurosurgery 
  • Ms. Denise Lo
    • Associate Director, Corporate Partnerships, SickKids Foundation  
  • Dr. Donald Mabbott
    • Program Head and Senior Scientist, Neurosciences & Mental Health Research Program 
  • Dr. Suneeta Monga
    • Interim Associate Psychiatrist-in-Chief  
  • Dr. Carter Snead
    • Staff Neurologist 
  • Dr. Peter Szatmari
    • Chief, Child & Youth Mental Health Collaborative 
  • Ms. Marie Bomba
    • Director, Foundation Relations, SickKids Foundation 

Awards and achievements

C-BMH has awarded 26 Chase an Idea grants since 2011. This $1.25-million investment in brain and mental health research has led to many successes including:

  • More than $6.58 million in external funding 
  • 43 publications and 132 invited presentations 
  • In addition, these findings have led to three potential patent partnerships with SickKids Industry Partnerships & Commercialization office 
  • In 2018-2019, Chase an Idea grant award recipients, Drs. Lu-Yang Wang, Jason Arsenault and Yi-Mei Yang successfully identified a new target for reducing Fragile X syndrome symptoms  
  • In 2018-2019, Health Outcomes grant award recipients Drs. Daphne Korczak and Yaron Finkelstein launched the first youth suicide controlled trial in Canada

Recent catalyst grant winners

C-BMH's catalyst grant competitions are strategic initiatives to support and encourage the discovery of new and groundbreaking ideas that would not receive funding through typical granting agencies.

Here are the latest grant winners for their innovative, provocative, and high-risk ideas that may move the brain and mental health science forward.

Co-funded by the Edwin S.H. Leong Centre for Healthy Children and the C-BMH.

Real-time monitoring of disaster-related mental health impact of COVID-19 on Canadian children, youth and families: A cross collaboration of community and clinical cohorts.

Led by Dr. Daphne Korczak.

Co-funded by the Edwin S.H. Leong Centre for Healthy Children and the C-BMH.

Mental health support for SickKids children and families during COVID-19 using established eHealth interventions.

Led by Drs. Tricia Williams and Suneeta Monga.

Modeling Neurological Effects Of SARS-Cov2 Infection in Patient-Derived Cultures.

Led by Dr. Julien Muffat.

Modeling inflammatory demyelination in ALD, using patient-derived physiological co-cultures.

Led by Dr. Julien Muffat.


Organoid models of cerebral cavernous malformations.

Led by Drs. Brent Derry and Yun Li.


Epilepsy and the Ryanodine Receptor- The secret to sudden death in epilepsy? 

Led by Dr. Elizabeth Donner.


Artificial intelligence to enhance neuroradiological assessment of brain injury and development in preterm neonates.

Led by Drs. Matthias Wagner and Steven Miller.

Developing Novel Virtual Reality Assessment and Intervention Tools to Improve Mental Health Outcomes in Youth. 

Led by Dr. Jennifer Crosbie. 


A Novel Approach Towards Understanding Social Behaviors in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors. 

Led by Dr. Maru Barrera. 


A Novel Pre-Surgical Psychological Intervention Targeting Mental Health Risk Factors for Chronic Post-Surgical Pain Disability. 

Led by Dr. Danielle Ruskin 


The Vascular Endothelial Dysfunction and Stroke in Early Life Study (VESSELS). 

Led by Dr. Mahmoud Slim.


Quantitative Perfusion Imaging for Autoimmune Encephalitis Diagnosis and Monitoring.

Led by Dr. Giulia Longoni. 

 
 

 

 

Research

The Centre for Brain & Mental Health’s (C-BMH) research arm is represented by the Neurosciences & Mental Health Program but the breadth of the Centre’s brain and mental health research activities spans far throughout the Research Institute’s seven distinct research programs 

The Centre actively seeks out partnerships and opportunities for collaborations across research disciplines and programs to integrate brain and mental health research, clinical care, and education to provide better outcomes for children and youth.

  • To develop a robust and integrated education program focusing on continuing professional development across the Centre 
  • The Centre’s Education Program is intended to complement and enhance the individual education activities of the Centre’s Divisions, Departments and Research Programs, and not to replace them. Its three focus areas include: continuing professional development for our staff, education for our trainees and the education of our patients’ families and the broader public community

  • To develop and encourage novel research opportunities through strategic Centre initiatives 
  • To manage and promote the Centre’s grant competitions 
  • To work with internal and external stakeholders to leverage all opportunities for collaborative research and funding 
  • To review and adjudicate research related funding requests that are submitted to the Centre

  • To spearhead advocacy initiatives for the improvement of paediatric brain and mental health research, care, and education within the province of Ontario 
  • To develop the Centre’s strategy, scope, and framework for advocacy initiatives 
  • To work with internal and external stakeholders to advance public policy through grassroots advocacy 
  • To develop a strategy for public education and awareness surrounding paediatric brain and mental health issues 
  • To ensure issues relating to paediatric brain and mental health remain on the agenda of Canadian politicians and policy makers 
  • Areas of advocacy focus include: youth suicide prevention, health outcomes and advocacy awareness 

Associations

The Centre for Brain & Mental Health is home to several divisional and departmental members.

The Centre’s research component is represented by the Neurosciences & Mental Health Program within the Research Institute.

Education and training

Part of our mission is to inspire, educate and mentor future generations of brain and mental health leaders, and we view all those who are engaged in training with us to be a very important part of this mission.

We offer comprehensive research training opportunities and catalyst grant competitions to enhance and supplement prior training, as well as to support the discovery of new and potentially ground-breaking ideas percolating within the Centre.

Integrative Research Training Fellowship Program

Please note: This competition is restricted to internal, SickKids Research Fellows only.

Program overview

The Integrative Research Training Fellowship Program is a strategic initiative of the SickKids Centre for Brain & Mental Health (C-BMH), which provides advanced fellows with a comprehensive research training opportunity in a new discipline that enhances and supplements their prior training and professional background.

This Fellowship competition is held annually in the fall through Restracomp and the Clinician Scientist Training Program (CSTP).

Fellows MUST cross brain and/or mental health related disciplines in order to be considered for an Integrative Research Training Fellowship.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  •  Neurologist or neurosurgeon training in a psychology lab;

  • PhD Social Worker training in psychiatry;

  • Neuroscientist training in a brain imaging lab or psychiatry.
 

Apply through Restracomp       Review CSTP policies and procedures (PDF)

Programs

Exterior of SickKids hospital

Epilepsy Classroom

In partnership with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the C-BMH runs an Epilepsy Classroom – a brain-based,  Education and Community Partnership Program (ECPP) with the Ontario Ministry of Education – that provides unique education and social-emotional support for children living with epilepsy.  Program educators and health-care providers offer elementary grade students individualized assessments, academic instruction in a 3:8 staff-to-student ratio, social and emotional support, and wrap-around care.

Neurology Social Work Single Session Clinic

The Neurology Social Work Single Session Clinic is a counselling clinic that offers focused mental health consultation and brief therapy to neurology patients and their families. Utilizing a strengths-based approach, neurology social workers support patients in addressing their most pressing concerns at a time when they feel they most need support. The clinic is free of charge and can be accessed as often as needed. Self-referrals or referrals by medical team members are accepted.

Managing Headache Pain Workshop

The Managing Headache Pain Workshop is an interactive program for patients experiencing chronic headache pain. This workshop provides education about the physiology of headaches, the range of treatments and support that exist beyond medication, and avenues of support for the entire family.

Grant competitions

Currently, granting agencies are reluctant to fund fledgling research – concepts or ideas which exist but that have yet to generate data and preliminary findings that would either prove or disprove the value of their pursuit. 

The Chase an Idea in Paediatric Neuroscience catalyst grant competition is a strategic initiative of the C-BMH. The purpose of this annual competition is to support the discovery of new and potentially groundbreaking ideas that would not receive funding through typical granting agencies. 

Innovation is key! You must truly be chasing an out-of-the-box, provocative, and high-risk idea that can move the field of mental health forward. 
 
A suite of catalyst grants of up to $50,000 each will be awarded for one-year research projects that are novel and innovative yet based on sound rationale and evidence for feasibility in:

  • Basic or clinical neuroscience or behavioural research OR 
  • Knowledge translation or quality management/improvement in clinical neuroscience or behavioural care 

The expected results should enable the subsequent development of peer-reviewed grant applications, change current institutional practice, and/or establish or implement new clinical care guidelines.

For questions or to learn more about the Chase an Idea Catalyst Grant Competition, contact us at brain.mentalhealth@sickkids.ca.

The Brain & Mental Health Outcomes catalyst grant competition is a strategic initiative of the C-BMH.

The purpose of this competition is to improve the brain and mental health outcomes of children and youth by supporting the development of new ideas and interventions that would not qualify for funding through typical granting agencies.

A focus on health outcomes is key! You must implement unique concepts, approaches, or methodologies that will catalyze improved paediatric brain and mental health outcomes.

Grants of up to $100,000 ($50,000/year for two years) will be awarded for novel project proposals focused on improving brain and mental health outcomes in children and youth.

The project must be collaborative, innovative and based on sound clinical and/or scientific rationale.

The expected results should catalyze improved paediatric brain and mental health outcomes by enabling the subsequent development of peer-reviewed grant applications, changing current institutional practice, and/or establishing or implementing new clinical care guidelines.

For questions or to learn more about the Brain & Mental Health Outcomes Catalyst Grant Competition, contact us at brain.mentalhealth@sickkids.ca. 

Resources for patients and families

Speak Up...We're Listening - Youth Suicide Prevention Awareness Resource Fair

Every September, the C-BMH partners with a number of community organizations to present an interactive youth suicide prevention awareness information and resource fair for parents, caregivers, patients, students, and staff. 

Join us in raising awareness for youth suicide prevention and commemorating World Suicide Prevention Day at this event: 

  • Discover the many youth suicide prevention community organizations that exist and the resources each one offers 
  • Learn about the services in Toronto and the GTA that are available to children and youth 
  • Take away valuable informational brochures and articles for your home or clinic 
  • and much more! 
     

*Please note: This year’s fair is cancelled due to COVID-19. We appreciate your understanding and hope that you can take part in the event in the future when it is safe to do so. Questions? Email us atbrain.mentalhealth@sickkids.ca.


Purple Day - In support of epilepsy awareness

Every March, the C-BMH, along with a number of epilepsy organizations, presents an interactive event to raise awareness about epilepsy by providing epilepsy information and resources to patients, parents, caregivers, families, students and staff.

Learn about what causes epilepsy and take away printed resources and information provided by community organizations. And don’t forget to wear something purple to show your support for epilepsy awareness!

*Please note: This year’s fair is cancelled due to COVID-19. We appreciate your understanding and hope that you can take part in the event in the future when it is safe to do so.

Questions? Email us at brain.mentalhealth@sickkids.ca. 


Bi-annual Mental Health Resource and Information Fair

Every other year during the first week of May, the C-BMH hosts a mental health resource and information fair to commemorate Children’s Mental Health Week and provide the public and SickKids staff with the opportunity to learn about the many great mental health focused resources, programs, services and information that are available at SickKids.

Take away printed mental health educational materials, contacts, information and more at this event. 

*Please note: This year’s fair is cancelled due to COVID-19. We appreciate your understanding and hope that you can take part in the event in the future when it is safe to do so. Questions? Email us at brain.mentalhealth@sickkids.ca.


Mental health information for parents and families

We've curated a number of helpful resources on adolescent brain and mental health via AboutKidsHealth - view the links below to learn more about each condition.

Contact CBMH

If you have any questions regarding the Centre for Brain & Mental Health, please email us at brain.mentalhealth@sickkids.ca.

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