Douglas Mental Health University Institute

Recognized as a flagship centre in mental health research, the Douglas Institute's research centre sets itself apart with innovative research projects in the neurosciences, clinical and psychosocial divisions.  Research is focused in four major themes:

Aging and Alzheimer Disease Research

By 2016, 17% of Canadians will be at least 65 years old and, as the population ages, the number of Alzheimer’s cases will rise accordingly.

The needs of our aging population will be a heavy load to bear if we do not find more effective means to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Douglas Institute researchers are particularly interested in the identification and prevention of dementia the elderly.  Read more on the topics they are exploring here.

The following are the Principal Investigators active in this research.


Tel: (514) 761-6131 ext.: 3370
E-mail: jens.pruessner [at]

Expertise:   Positron Emission Tomography, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis

Jens C. Pruessner uses functional and structural brain imaging techniques - Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) - to investigate what happens in the brain when acute and chronic stress is perceived and processed. In addition, he and his team investigate the effects of inter-individual variations of different personality traits on the stress response.

More info:


Tel: (514) 761-6131  ext.: 4408
E-mail: veronique.bohbot [at]

Expertise:   Auditory and visual spatial memory, virtual reality, plasticity

People can make use of multiple brain areas to navigate in the environment. Research in Véronique Bohbot’s laboratory focuses on these various memory systems, and how their use may vary, depending on individual navigational strategies.  With the use of a real and virtual navigation laboratory, Véronique Bohbot investigates the neural correlates underlying both visual and auditory spatial memory in normal volunteers and brain-damaged individuals.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 3142
E-mail: salah.elmestikawy [at]

Expertise:   Neurobiology, molecular biology, neuroanatomy, glutamatergic neurotransmission, animal modeling, post-mortem examinations of human neuropathologies

Salah El Mestikawy and his team have combined different approaches to analyze how the brain works, ranging from the molecular and fundamental functions to the most integrated aspects, such as behaviour and pathology.  The main objective of their work consists in the study of neurons using glutamate as a neurotransmitter in healthy and diseased central nervous systems.

More info:


Tel: 514-766-2010  ext.: 3947
E-mail: serge.gauthier [at]

Expertise:   Alzheimer Disease; clinical trials; epidemiology of dementia; ethics

Serge Gauthier is credited with setting up the first multicentre Canadian study on the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease, using tacrine, as well as creating the Canadian Consortium of Centers for Clinical Cognitive Research (C5R).  He is famous for his outstanding contributions to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to Alzheimer Disease and other dementing disorders.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 4393
E-mail: martin.lepage [at]

Expertise:  Functional neuroimaging, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, neuropsychology of memory, schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety disorders

Martin Lepage, PhD has been working at the Douglas Institute Research Center to further our understanding of the anatomical and neurophysiological basis of memory in humans. He and his research team are currently using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study memory deficits in patients with schizophrenia.

More info:


Tel: 514 762-3035
E-mail:  vasavan.nair [at]

Expertise:  Melatonin, cortisol, biomarkers, brain aging, refractory depression, clinical trials, meditation

N.P. Vasavan Nair’s research interests are clinical psychopharmacology and neurobiology of schizophrenia, depression, and Alzheimer Disease.   His current research focuses on finding treatment methods for conditions that are difficult to treat, such as psychosis with Alzheimer Disease, and refractory depression.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 6153
E-mail: judes.poirier [at]

Expertise:   Alzheimer Disease, genetics and pharmacogenetics, aging

Judes Poirier, PhD, has attained international recognition for his scientific contributions towards understanding two prominent diseases afflicting the elderly Alzheimer Disease and Parkinson's Disease. In 1995, his team revealed that drug responsiveness to memory enhancer medication used for Alzheimer Disease was highly dependent upon specific genes inherited from our parents. While people suffering from Alzheimer Disease who do not carry the abnormal ApoE4 gene respond quite well to cholinomimetic drugs - a group of medications that improve memory - those carrying the abnormal gene tend respond poorly or not at all.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131 ext.: 3932/2934
E-mail: remi.quirion [at]

Expertise:   Alzheimer Disease, neuropeptides, neuroprotection, cell death, psychiatric illnesses

Rémi Quirion, PhD, has cultivated a diverse laboratory and trained over 70 students and fellows, from all over the world, dedicated to the study of brain peptides (neuropeptide Y, CGRP), growth factors (nerve growth factor and insulin-like growth factor-1), and the role of programmed cell death in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 2836
E-mail: natasha.rajah [at]

Expertise:    Functional neuroimaging (PET, fMRI), prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, visual episodic memory, executive functions, aging and memory, neural network modeling, functional connectivity, brain-behavior interactions in learning and memory.

Maria Natasha Rajah, Ph.D., is currently conducting research to investigate how memory retrieval works in healthy young adults, and how it is affected by aging. Her research makes use of a brain imaging technique called event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to find out what brain regions are important for retrieving memories in young adults, and how healthy aging impacts the structure and function of these various regions, particularly the prefrontal cortex.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131 ext.: 3446
E-mail: pedro.rosa [at]

Expertise:  Translational neuroimaging, human and animal imaging, PET, MRI, neurodegenerative disease, dementia.

Pedro Rosa-Neto directs the Translational Neuroimaging Laboratory (TNL), a multi-site facility, which is shared between the Douglas Institute, the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging and the Montreal Neurological Institute. This cross institutional lab, a first for Quebec, will link animal studies with human conditions, and help identify early markers of disease.  The main goals of the Pedro Rosa-Neto’s work are to identify imaging markers of neurodegenerative disease in animal models and use these biomarkers for early diagnosis of dementia.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 5937
E-mail: sylvain.williams [at]

Expertise:   Electrophysiology, plasticity, synaptic, neuroinflammation

Sylvain Williams and his team are examining the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1 (IL-1) on the modulation of neuronal excitability, synaptic plasticity, and neuronal stem cell development. As well, they are characterizing the state of synaptic plasticity – how connections between neurons are modified in terms of long-term potentiation and/or depression in animal models of mental disorders.

More info:


Mood, Anxiety and Impulsivity-Related Disorders Research

Researchers examining the “Mood, Anxiety, and Impulsivity-related Disorders” theme are aiming to identify the genetic, psychological, neurobiological and environmental causes of most mood disorders and testing the most effective treatments.

Their main focus is on Depression, Bipolar disorder, Personality disorders, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Eating disorders, Substance dependence, e.g. drug or alcohol, Suicide

Genetic marker: Researchers are attempting to identify genetic risk factors for eating disorders, personality disorders, suicide, alcoholism and substance abuse.

Neurobiologial marker: Researchers try to identifiy the neurobiological mechanisms behind depression and anxiety.

Psychological marker: People react differently to stress and trauma. For this reason, researchers are currently conducting clinical studies to identify psychological markers, such as personality traits linked to anxiety disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder.

Following are the Principal Investigators active in this research.


Tel: 514 761-6131       ext.: 3365
E-mail: naguib.mechawar [at]

Areas of expertise:  Cellular neuroanatomy, central cholinergic systems, adult brain neurogenesis, mood disorders and suicide

Suicide represents a major scourge in our society, accounting for 2% of annual deaths in Canada. Naguib Mechawar, who joined the Douglas Institute as a researcher in 2007, is mainly interested in identifying the neurochemical and neuroanatomical properties underlying major depression and suicidal behaviors in the human brain.
Naguib Mechawar has also been studying the brain’s cholinergic neurons for the past ten years. He has described the growth and fine structure of these neurons, as well as their implication in adult brain neurogenesis. A related project currently under way in his laboratory is aimed at defining the long-term effects, on brain and behavior, of nicotine exposure during development.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131     ext.: 3360
E-mail: jorge.armony [at]

Areas of expertise: Emotions, IRMf, SSPT

Much of our current understanding of stress-related disorders – including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), phobias, panic attack, and generalized anxiety – comes from studying how the brain processes fear.  Jorge Armony, PhD conducts research on how the brain detects stimuli in the environment that may signal threat or danger, and how this mechanism interacts with other processes, such as consciousness, attention, and memory.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131     ext.: 3301
E-mail: serge.beaulieu [at]

Areas of expertise:Bipolar disorder, psychopharmacology, stress, depression, neuroendocrinology

A psychiatrist and researcher-clinician, Serge Beaulieu is interested primarily in bipolar disorders (manic depressive illness) and major depression. He studies neurobiological responses to antidepressant and mood stabilizer treatment and potential new treatments for these disorders.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 3933
E-mail: antoine.bechara2 [at]

Areas of expertise: Decision-making, addiction, neurobiology, decision neuroscience, social behaviour

Antoine Bechara’s, PhD, research focus is on “decision neuroscience”, or how the brain makes decisions. This field integrates the study of brain physiology with behaviour and enriches the understanding of a variety of human decision-making events including the development of economic theories, and political or legal decisions.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 2397
E-mail: diane.boivin [at]

Areas of expertise:  Human circadian rhythms, sleep-wake cycle, phototherapy, night shift work and rotating shiftwork, jet lag, fatigue management

Diane B. Boivin, MD, PhD, conducts research as an expert in sleep and circadian rhythms disorders. Her research interests are on the role of circadian rhythms in psychiatry, the interaction between circadian rhythms and menstrual cycles, the expression of circadian clock genes in humans, and adaptation to shift work.   During her career as a researcher, she has written over 400 publications.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 3415
E-mail: thomas.brown [at]

Areas of expertise:  Addiction, treatment evaluation, knowledge transfer

Since arriving at the Douglas Institute in 1998, Thomas G. Brown, PhD, has continued his already established research program on addictions and substance abuse. His team is focusing on the research and development of psychosocial interventions to combat substance abuse, as well as defining patient characteristics in order to optimally match individuals to the most suitable intervention.

More info:


Tel:  514 761-6131      ext.: 2898, 2895
E-mail: kenneth.bruce [at]

Areas of expertise:  Eating disorders, alcoholism (abuse/addiction)

Kenneth Bruce’s primary interest is in examining the extent of overlap in the causes of bulimia nervosa and alcoholism in women. The research involves measuring emotional, physiological and behavioural responses during a lab procedure that temporarily reduces levels of serotonin - a brain transmitter thought to play a role in both eating disorders and alcoholism.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 4348
E-mail: alain.brunet [at]

Areas of expertise:  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, assessment, peritraumatic responses, early interventions, neurobiological correlates, neuroimaging, internet, psychophysiology

As a clinical psychologist, Alain Brunet, PhD, has been investigating the impact of trauma exposure on individuals for over 15 years, with a special focus on characterizing the risk factors and developing effective treatments for PTSD, such as early intervention and reconsolidation blockade.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 4936
E-mail: nicolas.cermakian [at]

More on his work at

Areas of expertise:  Circadian rhythms, clock genes, sleep regulation

Nicolas Cermakian is studying the molecular mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms, especially in animal models. His work focuses on maximizing our understanding of “the gears in the biological clock”. These gears are, in fact, genes, which we call “clock genes”. Mutation of these clock genes in animals or in humans leads to disturbed rhythms, which can cause sleep disturbances and mood disorders, and may even favor cancer progression.

More info:


Tel: 514 762-3303     ext.: 3419
E-mail: maurice.dongier [at]

Areas of expertise:  Electroencephalography, event-related potentials of the brain, alcohol and drug addiction

Maurice Dongier, MD, FRCPC served as chairman of McGill University's Department of Psychiatry (1974-1985).  Since 1985, he has developed the Alcohol Research Program at the Douglas Institute, recruiting a multidisciplinary team of researchers. His fields of research include treatments of alcoholism, both pharmacological and psychosocial.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 5929
E-mail: christina.gianoulakis [at]

Areas of expertise:  Alcohol abuse; stress responses; neuropeptides; peptide microdialysis

Christina Gianoulakis, PhD, has made breakthrough contributions to understanding the role of the endogenous opioid system in mediating, at least in part, some of the reinforcing effects of alcohol. These findings, along with those by other investigators, have provided support for the use of Naltrexone, a non-specific opioid receptor antagonist, as a treatment approved in the United States and Canada to prevent alcohol relapse by detoxified alcoholics.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131   ext.: 3937
E-mail: alain.gratton [at]

Areas of expertise: Drug addiction, neurodevelopmental factors, neurochemistry, psychopharmacology

The neurotransmitter, dopamine, has been implicated in both the exposure to stress and the self-administration of numerous drugs of abuse, including cocaine. Alain Gratton investigates the role of dopamine in drug abuse, as well as exposure to stress.  To conduct their investigations, his team implements in vivo voltammetry – a state-of-the-art research technique that enables the second-to-second monitoring of minute changes in dopamine in response to various stimuli.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131   ext.: 2745
E-mail: mimi.israel [at]

Areas of expertise: Eating disorders, affective disorders, crisis intervention, emergency psychiatry and mental health care service organization and delivery

Since joining the Douglas Institute in 1998, Mimi Israël has assumed a leadership position in improving conditions for mentally ill individuals who end up in the legal system, has initiated a committee to develop a therapeutic anti-substance abuse environment while promoting integrated treatment for those who suffer from concurrent mental health and substance use disorders of the clinical research forum.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131   ext.: 4927
E-mail: giamal.luheshi [at]

Areas of expertise: Neuro-immunology, cytokines, infection/inflammation

Numerous insults to the brain, such as head injury, stroke, and infections, as well as diseases including Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer Disease, are associated with increased levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1).  Giamal N. Luheshi joined the Douglas Institute Research Centre in 2000 with the aim of investigating the mechanisms of action of brain IL-1 in response to systemic infection, inflammation or injury, as well as to examine the role of cytokines in the development and progression of mental illness.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 3333
E-mail: roberta.palmour [at]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131   ext.: 3301
E-mail: johanne.renaud [at]

Areas of expertise:  Youth suicide and suicidal behaviours, depressive disorders, health services, childhood, adolescence

Youth suicide and suicidal behaviours are pervasive problems in our society. In her role as researcher, Johanne Renaud, MD, MSc, FRCPC, strives to improve preventative and treatment measures by implementing research protocols on innovative interventions for depressed youth and their families. This includes research into mental health services and interventions for youth at risk of suicide.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 3433
E-mail: joseph.rochford [at]

Areas of expertise:  Stress, depression, animal models, behavioral pharmacology

It has been estimated that 75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems. Joseph Rochford, PhD examines how antidepressants change behavioral and biological mechanisms involved in coping with stress. He and his team are investigating various animal models of acute and chronic stress with a view to understanding innate and learned coping strategies, as well as the therapeutic effectiveness of antidepressants in alleviating stress.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 2895
E-mail: howard.steiger [at]

Areas of expertise: Eating disorders, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, personality pathology, neurobiology, gene-environment interactions, developmental factors

Director of the Douglas Institute’s Eating Disorders Program since 1990, Howard Steiger has contributed significantly to the advancement of knowledge regarding causal mechanisms and clinical management of eating disorders.   Among various things, Steiger’s research addresses the relationship between eating disturbances and comorbid psychopathology - with recent research focussing on developmental, neurobiological and genetic correlates of the eating disorders and commonly associated psychopathology.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext: 615252
E-mail: florian.storch [at]

Areas of expertise: Molecular neurobiology, mouse genetics, tissue-specific gene manipulation, circadian clocks and behavior, circadian rhythms

Florian Storch, PhD, joined the Douglas in 2008 after completing his postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School, where he explored the biological role of circadian clocks, internal timers that generate rhythms with a period of 24 hours. His research contributed to the current understanding that the circadian timing system in mammals is made up of a multitude of intrinsic clocks that are distributed throughout the body, including the brain. Florian Storch showed that these clocks typically control more than 10% of the genes expressed in a given tissue, suggesting that many biological processes must be clock-regulated.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  Ext.: 3463
E-mail: monique.seguin [at]

Areas of expertise:  Suicide, bereavement, risk and protective factors for suicide, intervention and clinical best practices

Monique Séguin, Ph.D., is an expert in suicide prevention and bereavement. She is particularly interested in the bereavement process and intervention strategies following suicide. In her work, she attempts to answer the following questions: How does bereavement after suicide differ from grief due to other kinds of losses? Are the reactions more intense, the healing time longer? What can be done to help suicide survivors? Is it really necessary to intervene?

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 3366, 3301
E-mail: gustavo.turecki [at]

Areas of expertise:  Suicide, depressive disorders, treatment-resistant major depressive disorder, neurobiology

Attempted and completed suicides are major problems in our society, making the understanding, prevention, and treatment of suicidal behaviors a top priority. Individuals who suffer from major depression are especially at risk. Gustavo Turecki, MD, PhD, is conducting studies to better understand the characteristics of these individuals, focusing on issues such as personality traits and other possible psychiatric disorders.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 4934
E-mail: dominique.walker [at]

Areas of expertise:  Stress responses, development, lactation, obesity and metabolism, neurogenesis, maternal behavior, neuroendocrinology

The profound implications of neonatal stress on brain development are beginning to be appreciated, due in part to the research efforts of Claire-Dominique Walker, PhD.  Her team is examining the relationship between brain development, the condition of the HPA axis, and neonatal stressors such as repeated pain or changes in levels of leptin - a protein that plays a critical role in the regulation of body weight and obesity, and that is affected by maternal diet.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  Ext.: 2929
E-mail: takpan.wong [at]

Areas of expertise:  Learning and memory, stress, synaptic plasticity, receptor trafficking

More than 70% of Canadian adults experience moderate levels of stress daily. The effect of stress on the Canadian health system is enormous and escalating. Increasing evidence has pointed out that the communication between brain cells - synaptic transmission - is highly susceptible to stress insult.  Tak Pan Wong, PhD, is interested in understanding the impact of stress on the brain. He also evaluates how this relates to individual behaviour, learning ability and memory formation.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 3428
E-mail: ngyngm [at]

Areas of expertise: Analytical biochemistry, neurochemistry, psychopharmacology.

Neurochemical analyses are critical to identifying peripheral biological markers for various psychiatric disorders, as well as profiling psychiatric medications in terms of their pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties. A member of the Douglas Hospital Research Centre since 1987, N.M.K. Ng Ying Kin, PhD, is also the director of the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit.

More info:



Schizophrenia and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research

Researchers focus on the causes, course, treatment and prevention of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome; and autism (research and evaluation)

In Canada, one in a hundred people will be diagnosed with schizophrenia while 3 to 5% of children have an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Effective treatment for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders depends on finding ways to control the symptoms with the appropriate medication, psychotherapeutic and educational interventions, and a healthy lifestyle.

The following are the principal investigators active in this research:


Tel: 514 761-6131  ext.: 2404
E-mail: ridha.joober [at]

Research:  Genetics, schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, animal models, QTL mapping

Afflicting one percent of the adult population with devastating hallucinations, delusions and social impairment, schizophrenia has long been known to have a genetic component.  As a major research focus, Ridha Joober has compared the genetic make-up and neuropsychological impairments of schizophrenics at opposite ends of the spectrum -- those that respond to neuroleptic treatments and those that fail to respond. In so doing, Ridha Joober has developed a more precise pharmaco-genetic profile of schizophrenia.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131    ext.: 2585
E-mail: david.bloom [at]

Research:  Schizophrenia, psychosis, recovery

David Bloom, MD, FRCPC, began his career at the Douglas Institute in 1982. As a psychiatrist, he treats and ensures follow-up for patients who suffer from a variety of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He is also involved, in collaboration with Research Centre colleagues, in numerous research projects involving psychopharmacology and psychosocial research.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131    ext.: 5928
E-mail: patricia.boksa [at]

Research:  Pregnancy, birth complications, C-section, schizophrenia

Patricia Boksa, PhD, conducts research on pregnancy and birth complications as risk factors for the later development of schizophrenia.  Patricia Boksa discovered that a seemingly innocuous birth procedure - birth by Caesarean section - is sufficient to produce long-term changes in the function of brain dopamine systems in rats and guinea pigs. These changes in dopamine function are similar to those observed in the brains of schizophrenic human subjects.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131    ext.: 3405
E-mail: bruno.debruille [at]

Research:   Functional brain dynamics, consciousness, schizophrenia, delusions, knowledge, perceptions

Sensory awareness of one's environment and the ability to recall previously stored cognitive information is central to human consciousness. J. Bruno Debruille, MD, PhD, has been conducting human research aimed at further unraveling the mysteries of consciousness in normal and in abnormal circumstances (in the case of brain damage or delusion).

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131    ext.: 3142
E-mail: salah.elmestikawy [at]

Research:  Neurobiology, molecular biology, neuroanatomy, glutamatergic neurotransmission, animal modeling, post-mortem examinations of human neuropathologies.

As part of their research work, Salah El Mestikawy and his team have combined different approaches to analyze how the brain works, ranging from the molecular and fundamental functions to the most integrated aspects, such as behaviour and pathology.  The main objective of their work consists in the study of neurons using glutamate as a neurotransmitter in healthy and diseased central nervous systems

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 2814
E-mail: cecilia.flores [at]

Research:  Neuronal plasticity, drug abuse, schizophrenia, sensitization, glutamate, dopamine, development

Cecilia Flores, PhD,  joined  the Douglas Institute Research Centre in 2004 to study cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the development of abnormalities in brain function, and in behavior associated with schizophrenia and drug abuse. Her work focuses on the dysfunction of the dopaminergic system, a brain system important in reward, motor, and cognitive functions.  

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 3142
E-mail: bruno.giros [at]

Research:  Neurobiology, Molecular Biology, dopamine and glutamate neurotransmission, schizophrenia, Behavior, animal modeling

After having created the Neurobiology and Psychiatry Laboratory at France’s Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM), Bruno Giros came to the Douglas Institute in 2007. He is interested in characterizing the neurobiology of schizophrenia and in developing improved genetic animal models of this illness.  Although the causes have yet to be fully characterized, two neurotransmitter systems have been implicated. These systems, the dopamine and glutamate pathways, have been the focus of Bruno Giros’ research.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-ext.: 2053
E-mail: natalie.grizenko [at]

Research:  Child psychiatry, disruptive behaviour disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), day treatment and transcultural child psychiatry.

Natalie Grizenko, MD, FRCPC is active as a clinician researcher, teacher and administrator. She has been medical chief of the Severe Disruptive Behavior Disorders Program since 1988. From 1996 to 2001, she was the director of professional and hospital services at the Douglas Institute and was involved in the restructuring of ultraspecialized programs and the development of a community-based model of psychiatric services.  Since October 2001, Natalie Grizenko has assumed the position of medical director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program.

More info:


Tel: 514 762-3303      ext.: 2110 et 3476
E-mail: reut.gruber [at]

Research:  Attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sleep intervention, genetics of sleep

Sleep deprivation has consequences for our health and daytime functioning. Reut Gruber, PhD, is examining the association between sleep and attention in infants, toddlers, children and adolescents, the role of sleep in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the genetics of sleep.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 2353
E-mail: suzanne.king [at]

Research:  Schizophrenia, Expressed Emotion, Prenatal maternal stress

Schizophrenic patients with families high in Expressed Emotion (EE) - a psychological construct that combines critical comments and emotional overinvolvement- have higher rates of relapse. The common interpretation of this finding has been that high EE parents stress the patients, thus exacerbating the schizophrenic symptoms to the point of disease relapse. Suzanne King, PhD, has published evidence supporting the role of EE as a reflection of the severity of the patient's illness, rather than a reflection of a noxious family attitude.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 6160
E-mail: aurelie.labbe [at]

Research:  Biostatistics, statistical genetics, Bayesian statistics, genetic epidemiology

Aurélie Labbe is a biostatistician who specializes in statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology. More specifically, she devotes her efforts to developing a methodology for genetic data analysis using association, genetic linkage and microarray studies.  She seeks to identify the susceptibility genes for major psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

More info:


Tel: 514-761-6131 ext.: 3418
E-mail: ashok.malla [at]

Research:  Schizophrenia, early intervention, first episode psychosis, outcome, integrated treatment

Ashok Malla focuses his studies on the early phases of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, and on prevention and early intervention of these severe illnesses. He is an international leader in the development of comprehensive programs for, and research in, early intervention in psychosis.

More info:


Tel: 514 761-6131    ext.: 3938
E-mail: michael.meaney [at]

Research:  Maternal care; stress; gene expression

Individual differences in maternal care can modify an offspring's cognitive development, as well as its ability to cope with stress later in life. Michael Meaney, PhD, was one of the first researchers to identify the importance of maternal care in modifying the expression of genes that regulate behavioral and neuroendocrine responses to stress, as well as hippocampal synaptic development.

More info:


Tel: 514 398-4916      
E-mail: gillian [at]

Research:  Schizophrenia, abnormal eye movements, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Gillian O’Driscoll, PhD, is working to improve our understanding of schizophrenia by studying populations at high risk for the disorder, such as relatives of schizophrenic patients. People at high risk for schizophrenia often have subtle cognitive and behavioral deficits that indicate that their brain function is different long before the appearance of any clinical symptoms.

More info:


Tel:  514 761-6131      ext.: 2936
E-mail: srilal [at]

Research:  Schizophrenia, animal model, dopamine, gene expression

Lalit Srivastava and his team are using animal models to test the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia. In particular, they have found that damage or activity blockade in certain regions of a rat pup's brain, such as the frontal cortex or the hippocampus, leads to profound behavioral and neurochemical changes in the adult animals, somewhat akin to those observed in human schizophrenia.

More info:



Services, Policy and Population Health Research

The researchers working on the “Services, policy and population health” theme come from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds: psychiatry, epidemiology, law, anthropology, economy, psychology, social work, administration.

Their goal is to inspire and influence developments in mental health policy so that people living with a mental illness can obtain the care and services to which they are entitled.

To accomplish this, the researchers study the organization of mental health services, as well as the social, cultural and economic factors that contribute to mental and substance use disorders. They also sit on decision-making committees, alongside healthcare professionals and decision-makers, to assist in formulating concrete policies that integrate new scientific knowledge. 

The following are the Principal Investigators active in this research.


Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 3361
E-mail: anne.crocker [at]

Research:  Forensic psychiatry, violence, criminality, severe mental illness, mental retardation, mental health-law and policy, criminal responsibility, fitness to stand trial, mental health services.                           

Anne Crocker’s work focuses on the interface between mental health and the law.  Her research program focuses on two main areas of forensic mental health:

  • The identification of psychosocial factors associated with violence and criminality among vulnerable populations, such as individuals with a severe mental illness and individuals with an intellectual disability.
  • The interface between the criminal justice and mental health systems (e.g. fitness to stand trial, criminal responsibility and mental health services research).

More Info:


Tel:  514 761-6131      ext.: 3445
E-mail:jean.caron [at]

Research:  Social psychiatric epidemiology, suicide epidemiology, program evaluation, psychometrics

Jean Caron, PhD, has been investigating the epidemiology of suicide, as well as that of mental disorders, for many years. His research relates mainly to the epidemiology of mental illnesses and suicide, the evaluation of mental health services, and the validation of psychometric instruments. His recent epidemiological work made it possible to clarify the relationship between social support and quality of life in schizophrenics, the economic disadvantaged population, and the general population.

More Info:


Tel: 514 761-6131     ext.: 4344
E-mail:mariejosee.fleury [at]

Research:  Organizational studies, health policy analysis, mental health system analysis

Marie-Josée Fleury is directing several research projects on the integration of health services networks in Quebec. Her fields of expertise are mainly concerned with issues of healthcare system organizations and evaluation of mental health services. More broadly, her lines of research are related to health systems analysis, policy research, studies on inter-organizational exchange, continuity of care and implementation of change, as well as vocational rehabilitation programs and other community integrative strategies.

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Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 2734
E-mail:ccoms-mtl-whocc [at]

Research: Psychosocial rehabilitation, mental health policy formulation, mental health services planning, development and evaluation

Gaston P. Harnois, MD, has wide-ranging expertise in psychosocial rehabilitation, technical cooperation, mental health policy formulation, mental health services planning, development and evaluation, and legislative reform, both nationally and internationally.  Over the years, he has contributed extensively to World Health Organization  initiatives.  He is a former president of the World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation and former secretary for the World Federation for Mental Health.

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Tel: 514 761-6131      ext.: 2351
E-mail: eric.latimer [at]

Research:  Economic analysis of mental health programs, Assertive Community Treatment, economic issues related to supported employment for people with severe mental illness

The resources in place to help people with mental illness – hospital psychiatry departments, CSSSs, and various other community organizations – plus the links between them, add up to an incredibly complex and costly system. Identifying the most cost-effective changes to pursue requires careful data collection and analysis. Since his arrival at  the Douglas Institute Research Centre in 1996, Eric Latimer, PhD, a health economist, has been looking for ways to improve the services our society provides to people with some of the most severe forms of mental illness, while staying within local and provincial budget constraints.

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Tel:  514 761-6131      ext.: 4347
E-mail:  duncan.pedersen [at]

Research:  Social inequalities and health, refugee health, war trauma, political violence and mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social medicine, social and transcultural psychiatry

Duncan Pedersen, MD, MPH, studies how societies impact the mental health of their citizens. His work focuses on Latin America, where large numbers of urban poor, ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples are exposed to social discrimination and political upheavals, poor environmental conditions, poverty, and income inequality. This results in substandard health conditions and a high prevalence of mental and social disorders.

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Tel:  514 761-6131      ext.: 2823
E-mail: michel.perreault [at]

Research:  Program evaluation with both mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 30 million office visits per year to physicians in North America are for psychiatric disorders. Some of these patients require out-patient services, or short- or long-term care at a psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric department of a general hospital. In the past, mental health services have been evaluated from the perspective of the caregiver. Today, there is growing interest in the patient's perspective of, and satisfaction with, these services.  Michel Perreault, PhD, has been working with the Psychosocial Research Division of the Douglas Institute since 1995, conducting research to evaluate, with a view to improving, services and treatments in psychiatry.

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Tel:  514 761-6131     ext.: 2521
E-mail:  myra.piat [at]

Research:  Mental health, housing, rehabilitation/recovery, evaluation of services, non professional caregivers, consumers, peer support, employment.

As well as having earned a doctorate in social work from the Université Laval in 1997, Myra Piat has over 20 years of experience in social services in the public and community sectors, both as a practitioner and as an administrator.  Her research focuses on two major areas: housing for persons with serious mental illness and recovery from serious mental illness

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Tel:  514 761-6131      ext.: 3379
E-mail: norbert.schmitz [at]

Research:  epidemiology, biostatistics, psychometrics

Norbert Schmitz, PhD, has many years of experience in psychiatric research, including psychiatric epidemiology and clinical trials. He has also been a reviewer for several scientific journals. Recent work has focused on the interaction of risk factors, with an emphasis on studies of mental disorders. This includes developing and applying new methodology for the design and analysis of psychiatric studies, as well as participating in major research projects.

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A recent addition is the Neurophenotyping Centre.  Neurophenotyping is the study of how specified genes, subjected to environmental influences and stressors, modify the brain, behavior and cognitive function. The objective is to identify potential risk factors that contribute to the vulnerability for mental illness.

The Douglas is home to the Quebec Brain Bank which has more than 2000 human brain specimens. Established in 1980, it is the oldest brain bank in Canada and represents one of the two largest reserves of autopsied brains in the country. It regularly receives brain tissue, which makes it one of the rare banks of its kind in the country that is still operational.