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Cathy Barr

Title: Senior Scientist, Neurosciences & Mental Health
Designations: PhD
Phone: 416-603-5800 ext. 2744
Alternate Contact Name: Kathryn Tzimika
Alternate Phone: 416-603-5800 ext. 2940
Alternate Email:
U of T Positions: Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Physiology
Chair Positions: Labatt Family Chair in Depression Biology in Children


Dr. Barr completed her PhD in molecular biology at the University of Texas, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (M.D. Anderson Cancer Center) in Houston, Texas. She then pursued her postdoctoral training in the genetics of complex behaviours at Yale University and subsequently at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto.


Dr. Barr’s research focuses on the genetic study of behaviour, specific aspects of cognition, and psychiatric and neurological disorders for which a genetic predisposition has been established, specifically childhood-onset depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, childhood-onset anxiety disorders, reading disabilities, and Tourette syndrome.

Because of the high risk for psychiatric disorders in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, a particular focus of the lab is understanding the shared risk factors across disorders. For example, depression is five times higher in children with a neurodevelopmental disorder. Through different approaches, Dr. Barr and her research team have identified genes that contribute to risk, and the lab is now focused on understanding how DNA variation at risk alters gene and neural cell function, using stem cells differentiated to neural cells and genome editing of genetic risk regions.


  • 1990: PhD, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, M.D Anderson Cancer Center
  • 1990–1992: Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Human Genetics, Yale University
  • 1992–1995: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Genetics, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)


  • 1995: Krembil Research Institute (previously Toronto Western Research Institute), Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network. Scientist
  • 1995–2006: Promoted to Senior Scientist in 2006, Toronto, ON Canada
  • 1996: SickKids Research Institute, Research Associate  
  • 1996–1998: Associate Scientist, Scientist 
  • 1999–2005: Promoted to Senior Scientist in 2005, Toronto, ON Canada
  • 2001: Member, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada
  • 1996: Full Professor in 2007, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada
  • 2017: Professor, Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada


  • 1999: Tourette Syndrome Gala Award, Tourette Syndrome Foundation
  • 2006: Research Award, Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada 
  • 2008: Executive Subcommittee, ADHD section of the World Psychiatric Association
  • 2011: Section Editor, BMC Psychiatry
  • 2014: Editorial Board Member, Molecular Neuropsychiatry
  • 2015: Editorial Board Member, BMC Medicine
  • 2018: Editorial Board Member, Genes, Brain and Behavior


  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research 
  • The Krembil Foundation
  • Medicine by Design


  1. Price KM, Wigg KG, Feng Y, Blokland K, Wilkinson M, He G, Kerr EN, Carter TC, Guger SL, Lovett MW, Strug LJ, Barr CL.  Genome-Wide Association Study of Word Reading: Overlap with Risk Genes for Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Genes Brain Behav. 2020 Feb 27:e12648. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12648. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 32108986.
  2. Reble E, Feng Y, Wigg KG, Barr CL. DNA variant in the RPGRIP1L gene influences alternative splicingMolecular Neuropsychiatry. 2020 Apr;5(Suppl 1):97-106. doi: 10.1159/000502199. Epub 2019 Sep 25. PMID: 32399473
  3. Brainstorm Consortium. Analysis of Shared Heritability in Common Disorders of the Brain.  Science. 2018 Jun 22;360(6395). 
  4. Jung I, Schmitt A, Diao Y, Lee AJ, Liu T, Yang D, Tan C, Eom J, Chan M, Chee S, Chiang Z, Kim C, Masliah E, Barr CL, Li B, Kuan S, Kim D, Ren B. A compendium of promoter-centered long-range chromatin 1 interactions in the human genome. Nat Genet. 2019 Oct;51(10):1442-1449 
  5. Xie W, Barr CL, Kim A, Yue F, Lee AY, Eubanks J, Dempster EL, Ren B.  Base-resolution analyses of parent-of-origin and sequence dependent allele specific DNA methylation in the mouse genome.  Cell. 2012 Feb 17; 148(4):816-31.

See a full list of Cathy Barr's publications

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