People

Co-directors

Suparna Choudhury is an Assistant Professor at the Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University and an Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research. She did her doctoral research in cognitive neuroscience at University College London, postdoctoral research in transcultural psychiatry at McGill and most recently directed an interdisciplinary research program on critical neuroscience and the developing brain at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin. Her current work investigates the production and dissemination of biomedical knowledge – in particular cognitive neuroscience – that shapes the ways in which researchers, clinicians, patients and laypeople understand themselves, their mental health and their illness experiences. Dr Choudhury’s research focuses primarily on the cases of the adolescent brain, cultural neuroscience and personalized genomic medicine. Her research investigates (i) How biological knowledge with significant social and clinical impact is produced. This line of research has focused mainly on the models, methodologies and disciplinary intersections in developmental cognitive neuroscience labs that work on the “teenage brain”. (ii) How this knowledge circulates and how it is it taken up, applied or resisted. This looks at how brain research informs mental health policy trans-nationally, how the language of genomics and neuroscience is interpreted by patient communities and lay users, and how these sciences shape everyday practices outside scientific research from education to meditation (iii) Social and political contexts of cognitive neuroscience, and interdisciplinary approaches to brain research through the framework of critical neuroscience.


Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD, FRCPC, is James McGill Professor and Director, Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University. He is Editor-in-Chief of Transcultural Psychiatry, the journal of the Section on Transcultural Psychiatry of the World Psychiatric Association, and directs the Culture and Mental Health Research Unit at the Department of Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. He founded and directs the annual Summer Program and Advanced Study Institute in Cultural Psychiatry at McGill. He also founded and co-directs the CIHR-IAPH Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research. His past research includes studies on cultural consultation, pathways and barriers to mental health care for immigrants and refugees, somatization in primary care, cultural concepts of mental health and illness in Inuit communities, risk and protective factors for suicide among Inuit youth, and resilience among Indigenous peoples. His current projects include a multi-site study of culturally-based, family-centered mental health promotion for Aboriginal youth; development of a web-based multicultural mental health resource centre; and the use of the cultural formulation in cultural consultation.


Samuel Veissière studies the interaction between cognition, culture, and human behavior in evolutionary and developmental perspectives. As humans, our evolved psychology is adapted (and constantly adapting!) to the unique challenges of being a social, cultural, political, and cooperative species. Dr. Veissière and his colleagues draw on range of experimental, ethnographic, and theoretical models and methods to study the cognitive underpinnings of culture, and the role of culture and context in shaping the regimes of attention, expectations and intuitions that drive human behaviour.


Faculty

Véronique Bohbot received her PhD in cognitive neuroscience in 1997 at the University of Arizona under the supervision of Dr. Lynn Nadel, co-author of Nobel Laureate Dr. John O’Keefe. Dr. Bohbot is an internationally recognized expert in the field of spatial memory and navigation. She studied spatial memory in healthy individuals from 8 years old to 85 years of age. She also examined spatial memory in relation to cultural differences as well as various neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as mild cognitive impairment, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and schizophrenia. Dr. Bohbot’s research uses methods with cutting edge technology such as virtual reality and neuroimaging in order to stimulate memory and the hippocampus, thereby reducing risks of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Currently, Dr. Bohbot holds an Associate Professor position in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University.


Guillaume Dumas, PhD, is Assistant Professor in Computational Psychiatry of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Montréal and the Director of the Precision Psychiatry and Social Physiology laboratory in the CHU Sainte-Justine research center. He holds the IVADO Chair in "AI and Mental Health", the FRQS J1 grant in "AI and Digital Health", and is an affiliated academic member of Mila – Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute. He is also an affiliate member of the Human Brain and Behavior Laboratory, in the Center for Complex Systems and Brains Sciences of Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Dumas investigates the neurobiology of social cognition through the lens of complex systems theory and computational methods. His scientific interests connect with biomedical research, specifically in psychiatry which requires to integrate biological, psychological, and social dimensions of the human mind.


Angela Marques Filipe, PhD, is a social scientist based at McGill University and her research interests include science and technology studies, medical anthropology, and critical global health. She is currently a visiting scholar at the Wellcome Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society in the University of Edinburgh and member of the Wellcome Trust Biosocial Birth Cohort Research Network. Prior to joining McGill, Angela studied for her PhD at the London School of Economics and King’s College London under the supervision of Professors Ilina Singh and Nikolas Rose. Funded by British, European, and North American research councils and agencies, her interdisciplinary work comprises, to date, two main streams of research: (i) the global histories of psychiatric diagnosis, developmental science, and childhood neurodisability/diversity and (ii) the social lives of knowledge production and translation in biomedicine and in biosocial research. Her publications include articles in journals such as Medical Anthropology, Social History of Medicine, Biosocieties, Frontiers in Sociology, PLOS Biology, Current Psychiatry Reports and the co-edited volume Global Perspectives on ADHD (2018, JHUP), as well as invited review essays in the American Journal of Sociology, Science as Culture, Sociology of Health & Illness, and Somatosphere.


Ian Gold is the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy & Psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal. He completed a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton University and did postdoctoral training at the Australian National University in Canberra. From 2000 to 2006 he was on the faculty of the School of Philosophy & Bioethics at Monash University in Melbourne and returned to McGill in 2006. His research focusses on the theory of delusion in psychiatric and neurological illness and on reductionism in psychiatry and neuroscience. He is the author of research articles in such journals as Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Mind and Language, Consciousness and Cognition, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, World Psychiatry, Transcultural Psychiatry, Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, and Cognitive Neuropsychiatry. No Mind is an Island, a book co-written with Joel Gold, is due to appear in 2012.


Michael Lifshitz, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry at McGill University and the Department of Psychiatry of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. He did his PhD in Neuroscience at McGill and a postdoctoral fellowship with Tanya Luhrmann in the Stanford Department of Anthropology. Before his doctorate, he completed a master's in neuroscience and an undergraduate in psychology, philosophy, and world religions, all at McGill. He studies practices that aim to transform subjective experience—from meditation and hypnosis to placebos, prayer, and psychedelics. He is particularly interested in how these practices can modulate feelings of agency, so that inner thoughts and sensations can come to feel as if they are emerging from a source beyond the self. His work combines phenomenology, neuroscience and ethnography to shed light on the plasticity of consciousness.


Amir Raz holds the Canada Research Chair in the cognitive neuroscience of attention, and heads the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at McGill University and the Clinical Neuroscience and Applied Cognition Laboratory at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH). He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and a member of the Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychology as well as the Montreal Neurological Institute. Dr. Raz is an interdisciplinary cognitive neuroscientist. He holds diplomate status with the American Board of Psychological Hypnosis. His active research interests span the neural and psychological substrates of attention, self-regulation, and effortful control. He is also conducting research into the cognitive neuroscience and culture, authorship processes, and atypical cognition.


Soham Rej is currently a Geriatric Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor at the Jewish General Hospital/Lady Davis Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Canada since 2017. He completed his medical school (2009) and psychiatry residency at McGill (2014), followed by a geriatric psychiatry clinical and research fellowship at the University of Toronto (2017). Soham's Geri-PARTy lab has 12-15 full-time staff, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students and investigates clinical trials to improve mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders in older adults with three foci: 1. Technology-Assisted Behavioral Interventions with a Human Touch (Virtual Reality, Zoom, Sensors, Phenotyping, Robots), working closely with Community Partners and using Mixed Quanti-/Quali-Methods; 2. Mind-body Interventions (Mindfulness, Meditation, Tai Chi, Yoga, Exercise, Health Education); and 3. Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy (Ketamine, Psilocybin). As of June 2021, he has 104 peer-reviewed publications, $1.9M in peer-reviewed research funding (CIHR, FRQS, etc.) and $1.8M in charitable, corporate, and governmental funding. He has mentored more than 55 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, psychiatry residents, and other trainees. We often have post-doctoral, research assistant, and volunteer positions available. If you are interested, please send your CV to Dr. Sekhon: harmehr.sekhon [at] mail.mcgill.ca.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Ana Gómez-Carrillo is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry of McGill University. She obtained her medical degree from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) and completed a psychiatry residency and specialized training as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin (Germany). She spent two years working on an in-patient crisis and depression ward with perinatal mental health services, treating mood and somatoform disorders. Dr. Gómez-Carrillo received funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for her doctoral research on depression as a risk factor for cerebrovascular disease. She then spent two years studying the processing of emotions in primary visual cortex at the Visual Perception Lab of the Charité University Hospital. She recently finished subspecialty training in immigrant and refugee mental health as a fellow clinical observer at the Cultural Consultation Service in the Jewish General Hospital. Dr. Gómez-Carrillo takes a special interest in the philosophy and anthropology of psychiatry, specifically how integrative frameworks can guide clinical assessments and interventions. Her current research focuses on integrating person-centered and precision psychiatry in the clinical assessment of depression. In her work, she also seeks to delineate the intersubjective nature of the diagnostic process and clarify the use of metaphors in the creation of illness narratives and meaning co-construction. As a side project, she works on tool development for cultural adaptation of psychological interventions and culturally responsive web-based mental health resources. Her research is currently funded by the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.


Maxwell J. D. Ramstead will begin the Douglas Utting Fellowship for Studies in Depression at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal in September 2019. He is affiliated with the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry and the Culture, Mind, and Brain program at McGill University and the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging of University College London. He is the author of over a dozen peer reviewed publications in journals such as Physics of Life Reviews and Synthese. His current research explores social-cultural and computational approaches to depression, as well as active inference and multiscale explanation in psychiatry, the cognitive sciences, and the computational neurosciences.  


Elizaveta Solomonova is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, where she works at Ian Gold’s Neurophilosophy Lab. She completed an interdisciplinary PhD in Psychiatry and Philosophy at the Université de Montréal. Dr. Solomonova did her undergraduate and graduate research training at the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory, Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine, where she worked on projects focused on sleep, memory, dream content, somatosensory stimulation during sleep, nightmares, sleep paralysis, and contemplative practices. In her work, she combines first-person techniques for the study of subjective experience with electrophysiology and other biomarkers, such as epigenetics and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Dr. Solomonova has collaborated extensively with media artists, philosophers and contemplative scientists, and is interested in developing novel synthetic approaches to the study of the mind. She is one of the founding members of YHouse, an interdisciplinary center for study of consciousness in New York. Dr. Solomonova’s postdoctoral work focuses on the relationship between social cognition (theory of mind, empathy), sleep and contemplative practices. She is funded by by McGill’s Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives initiative, by the Outstanding Science Award from the Canadian Sleep and Circadian Network, and by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec en Société et Culture.


Graduate Students

Axel Constant is a PhD student in the Philosophy of Biomedicine at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Paul Griffiths and Peter Godfrey-Smith. He is a graduate trainee at the Culture Mind and Brain Program of the University McGill and was a visiting fellow at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Neuroimaging of the University College London under the supervision of Karl J. Friston. He received an MSc in Cognitive Science from the University of Amsterdam and an MA in Philosophy from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. His published work is at the intersection of Evolutionary Biology, the Philosophy of Cognitive science and Psychiatry, and Evolutionary Cultural Anthropology. His current work aims at extending methods employed in Computational Psychiatry to theories and models employed in Cultural Psychiatry. His focus is on the theory of looping effects of human kinds and on Ecosocial models of psychiatric disorders as applied to depression and autism.


Vincent Laliberté is a psychiatrist and a PhD student in anthropology at McGill University. His main area of study is the neuroscientific discourse in psychiatry and in other areas related to mental health, such as in contemplative practices. He is also interested in conceptualizing the different ways in which social sciences can contribute to the neurosciences. In addition, Vincent conducts research in social and community psychiatry and has a clinical practice at the Welcome Hall Mission, a shelter in Montreal, where he provides mental health care to homeless people. He is currently funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Resarch (CIHR) and the McGill Healthy Brain for Healthy Lives (HBHL).

 

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