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SickKids

Garry Hurvitz Centre for Brain & Mental Health

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

The Garry Hurvitz Centre for Brain & Mental Health (GH-CBMH) at SickKids cultivates the multidisciplinary integration of clinical care, research and education to improve the outcomes of children and youth living with brain and mental health disorders.

What we do

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

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

In 2021, the Centre was renamed thanks to a monumental seven-year, $50 million transformational gift from Mr. Garry Hurvitz. This gift supports the Centre’s activities under the SickKids Mental Health Strategy and the Garry Hurvitz Community Centre for Mental Health (GH-CCMH).

Achievements

  • Awarded 35 Chase an Idea and 18 Health Outcomes catalyst grants. This $3.7 million investment in brain and mental health research has led to many successes including $14.6 million in external funding, 92 publications and 178 invited presentations
  • Awarded $630K in matching funds for innovative projects, leveraging $17.5 million in external grants.
  • Funded 29 research and clinician-scientist fellowships, including 3 integrative fellows.
  • GH-CBMH research findings leading to three potential patent partnerships with Industry Partnerships & Commercialization at SickKids.
Calendar

Brain & Mental Health Conference 2024

Mark your calendars for May 30, 2024! GH-CBMH will be hosting a conference focused on youth suicide prevention. The conference schedule will include:

  • talks from four esteemed international speakers
  • a multidisciplinary expert panel discussion
  • networking sessions

Registration details and a complete schedule to follow in January/February 2024.

Programs & partners

Core programs

Neurology

Our Division strives for optimal outcomes for children with neurological conditions.

Neurosurgery

We're the largest and longest running Neurosurgery Division in Canada, and one of the best in the world.

Psychiatry

We are committed to providing exemplary clinical care, incorporating best clinical practices in children and youth mental health.

Psychology

We provide consultation, assessment, diagnosis, treatment and interventions for young people up to 18 years of age.

Social Work

Social work services and psychosocial interventions for children, adolescents and families.

Neurosciences and Mental Health Research Program icon

Neurosciences & Mental Health

We focus on advancing understanding of the brain to develop novel approaches to therapy and prevention strategies.

Associate programs

Neuro-Imaging

Neuro-Intensive Care

Neuropathology

Neuroradiology

Awards, funding & fellowships

For any applications and inquiries about the following opportunities, please email brain.mentalhealth@sickkids.ca (unless otherwise specified).

Awards

Purpose: Established in 2005 by the Department of Psychiatry at SickKids to honour the lifetime commitment and dedication, to children’s mental health services and education that “Liz” has passionately demonstrated.

Description: Supported financially by an endowment readily built by multiple donors, this award acknowledges the outstanding clinical and/or programmatic contributions of non-physician health professionals and/or leaders in the area of child and youth mental health within the province of Ontario.

Value of award: The selected recipient will receive an award of $1,000 for their clinical or administrative/programmatic excellence in the area of child and youth mental health. Additionally, the recipient’s home institution will receive $1,000 to support professional development.

Timeline: Nominations begin Spring 2024.

Past recipients: Trish Williams and Gord Bains 

Purpose: Mobilize clinician-scientists to pursue innovative ideas, connect with patients and families in the clinic, and collaborate with world-class SickKids scientists to help overcome intractable challenges.

Past recipients: Dr. Tricia Williams

Purpose: Recognize an outstanding registered GH-CBMH member (any individual working in the areas of brain health and mental health) who demonstrates generosity with their time and/or support to make a significant difference in the lives of their colleagues, patients, or families. 

Value of award:  Each selected recipient will receive an award of $250. Typically, three recipients are chosen per award cycle.

Eligibility: Physicians and leaders are not eligible for nomination.

Past recipients: Irit Wallace, Danielle Driscoll and Seetha Sriharan

Timeline: The competition runs annually over the summer. 

Catalyst competitions

Purpose: Support the discovery of new and potentially ground-breaking ideas that would not receive funding through typical granting agencies.

Description: Innovation is key! You must truly be chasing an out-of-the-box, provocative and high-risk idea that can move the field of brain and mental health forward. A suite of catalyst grants of up to $65,000 each are 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 behavioral research and/or   
  • Knowledge translation in clinical neuroscience or behavioral care 

Submissions to this grant competition should only be made for new projects; the continuation of existing projects will not be supported. Applications should be written for a broad audience (clinicians and researchers) and not specifically for experts in their field.   

Eligibility: Principal applicants should be SickKids staff members including researchers, clinical staff, fellows, research associates and directors/managers/coordinators.

Timeline: The competition runs annually in the fall.


Past winners (2022)

  • Dr. Steven Prescott: Homeostatic regulation of neuronal excitability in Rett syndrome
  • Dr. Brian Kalish: Decoding the Neurobiology of Early Life Stress and Resiliency Using Spatial Genomics
  • Dr. Trish Domi: Home-Based Virtual Reality Telerehabilitation to Improve Upper Extremity Motor Function in Pediatric Arterial Ischemic Stroke Survivors
  • Dr. Paul Frankland: Assessment of cognitive dysfunction in a mouse model of long COVID
  • Dr Lu-Yang Wang: The Hidden Secret of Cardiac Sodium Channel Nav1.5 in the Brain
  • Dr. Carmen Parra-Farinas: Robotic-Assisted Endovascular Simulation Using Anatomical-Realistic and True-to-Flow 3D-Replicas of Pediatric Neurovascular Pathologies

Purpose: 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.

Description: 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. Preliminary data is not required.  

Eligibility: Principal applicants should be SickKids staff members including researchers, clinical staff, fellows, research associates and directors/managers/coordinators.

Timeline: The competition runs annually in the spring.


Past winners (2023)

  • Dr. Rosanna Weksberg: DNA methylation as a predictive biomarker of psychosis in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome
  • Dr. Brian Nieman: Brain treatment effects in childhood leukaemia patients revealed by motion-compensated MRI
  • Dr Catherine Birken: Improving neonatal development and parental mental health by addressing poverty – the Financial Navigator Program
  • Dr. Nicole McKinnon: Building resilience in our most vulnerable children: Determination of modifiable risk factors for poor mental health outcomes in children after critical illness
  • Dr Linda Hiraki: Investigating the genetics of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents with systemic lupus erythematosus

Innovation funding

Purpose: Support Centre members who are applying to external granting agencies that require matching funds.

Description: The maximum match per project is $50,000 per year for up to three years ($150,000 total). The external grant competition must be national or international. Proposals must be peer reviewed, and the project must focus on brain health or mental health related research relevant to children or youth, or to fundamental issues of brain development. 

Eligibility: Applicants must be employed by SickKids and have a Research Institute (RI) appointment that permits holding external grants. 

Timeline: The competition is run semi-annually during the spring and fall.

Past recipients: Anne Wheeler

Program development awards

Purpose: Support programs in carrying out innovative brain and mental health-related work.

Description: In 2023, GH-CBMH awarded funding to program proposals with the intent of making an impactful contribution in the brain and/or mental health sphere. 


Past fund recipients

  • Dr. Carolina Gorodetsky: Establishing A National Canadian Paediatric Deep Brain Stimulation (pDBS) program
    • Dr Gorodetsky's project aims to scale SickKids' renowned pDBS clinic into a national pDBS strategy, building infrastructure to enhance collaboration with other Canadian paediatric centers, providing hybrid virtual and in-person multidisciplinary education sessions, and scaling a multi-center registry for children undergoing DBS to facilitate further understanding of paediatric-specific outcomes.
  • Dr. Prakash Muthusami: Establishing a Research-Educational “Paediatric Neurovascular Program” at SickKids for Improving Disease Outcomes
    • Dr. Muthusami's project aims to develop and optimize research, neuroimaging and data registry infrastructure, increase international neurovascular research collaboration, and create educational opportunities to expand expertise across neurosurgery and neurointervention.
  • Dr. Tricia Williams: Optimizing mental health outcomes for SickKids children and their families: Building a clinical pathway for I-InTERACT-North
    • Dr. Williams' project aims to create a novel early intervention pathway at SickKids that identifies and responds to child mental health before significant symptoms manifest, with potential provincial and national adoption across leading Canadian centres. The pathway aims to provide personalized, precision mental health care by identifying, preventing, and optimizing mental health in children and their families, based on close attention to initial assessments and tailoring of interventions to optimize treatment success. 

Read more about the fund recipients and their projects.

Fellowships

Purpose: Provide candidates from any regulated healthcare profession from across the hospital with a comprehensive training opportunity in a new or different clinical area, which enhances and supplements their prior training and professional background.  

Description: Designed as an integrative clinical academic fellowship, clinical and academic work could take place within any relevant clinical departments within the GH-CBMH at SickKids (e.g., the Department of Psychiatry, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Social work or Psychology) that is considered cross-disciplinary for the applicant. There are no restrictions on the type of integrative work conducted. 

Academic or scholarly work is also flexible and could include research (e.g., basic science or clinical research), teaching or educational scholarship, knowledge translation, patient experience research, quality improvement etc.

Apply: Candidates should provide a brief narrative on their expected clinical and academic/scholarship outcomes, including their clinical aims as well as academic project goals, and how the fellowship is cross-disciplinary and integrates different disciplines. Candidates must identify a primary clinical supervisor, and a second ‘mentor’ academic supervisor in another area/discipline than their own professional discipline. All supervisors must have a full-time faculty appointment at SickKids.  

Timeline: The next application process will begin in Spring 2024.

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

Purpose: Provide advanced fellows with comprehensive research training in a new discipline that enhances and supplements their prior training and professional background.

Eligibility: 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

Timeline: The competition runs annually in the fall.

Apply: Applicants should review the Clinician Scientist Training Program's (CSTP) policies and procedures and apply through Restracomp.

Questions? Contact the Research Training Centre.

Apply through RestracompDownload CSTP policies and procedures (PDF)

Centre leadership & committees

GH-CBMH is a multidisciplinary and interprofessional group of researchers, physicians, nurses and allied health professionals, whose reach extends across SickKids and throughout the global community. 

Centre leads

Headshot of Louise Gallagher

Louise Gallagher

Chief, Department of Psychiatry & Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative

Elizabeth Donner

Division Head, Division of Neurosurgery

Executive committee

Jeff Mainland

Executive Vice President (Executive Sponsor, GH-CBMH)

publish

Marie Bomba

Director, Foundation Relations, SickKids

Jonathan Golden

Director of Collaborative Professional Practice (Psychology and Social Work)

George Ibrahim

Staff Neurosurgeon, Division of Neurosurgery

Photo of Angela Murphy

Angela Murphy

Vice President, Campaign, SickKids Foundation

Suneeta Monga

Suneeta Monga

Associate Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Department of Psychiatry

Heather Soberman

Heather Soberman

Director, Garry Hurvitz Centre for Brain & Mental Health

Mahendra Moharir

Mahendranath Moharir

Clinical Director, Division of Neurology and Paediatric Stroke Program

Donald Mabbott

Program Head and Senior Scientist, Neurosciences & Mental Health

Headshot of Dr. Peter Dirks.

Peter Dirks

Chief, Division of Neurosurgery

Headshot of Darryl Yates

Darryl Yates

Executive Director, Brain and Mental Health Services

Committees & councils

  • Identify and develop collaborative educational and knowledge translational initiatives across SickKids
  • Develop strategies integrating children and families in brain and mental health initiatives 
  • Review and implement innovative educational strategies
  • Implement Knowledge Translation (KT) strategies to facilitate new knowledge uptake globally
  • Act as a liaison between the Garry Hurvitz Centre for Brain and Mental Health Executive Committee, and internal and external partners for educational and knowledge exchange initiatives 

  • Develop and encourage novel research opportunities through strategic Centre initiatives 
  • Manage and promote the Centre’s grant competitions 
  • Work with internal and external stakeholders to leverage all opportunities for collaborative research and funding 
  • Review and adjudicate research related funding requests that are submitted to the Centre

The GH-CBMH, in collaboration with clinical experts and under the leadership of the Executive Director, Brain & Mental Health Services, has launched a Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). Doing so will help to ensure that patients and families are included and engaged as partners with the hospital.

The PFAC will discuss treatments, therapeutics, and develop recommendations to improve mental health services and supports for patients and their families. Patient and Family Advisors (PFAs) on the PFAC will act as general consultants and advisors who provide insight and recommendations to help ensure that the patient’s and family’s perspectives are integrated into service and quality improvement projects throughout the Brain & Mental Health program. The PFAs will provide a diverse range of perspectives to further improve patient care as well as the patient and family experience.

Sign up as a member

Interested in joining the GH-CBMH community? Complete our Member Registration form to receive timely updates about upcoming events, funding opportunities, fellowships and more.  

Contact

Contact us

If you have questions, please email us at brain.mentalhealth@sickkids.ca

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