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Dr. Benicio Frey


Dr. Frey is Associate Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, Academic Head of the Mood Disorders Program, and Director of the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic at St. Joseph's Healthcare ( He completed his M.D. and specialization in Psychiatry at the FFFCMPA and Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Dr. Frey completed a Research Fellowship at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, working with brain imaging in bipolar disorder. Subsequently, Dr. Frey did a Postdoctoral Fellowship in brain imaging at the Montreal Neurological Institute (McGill University), where he conducted a PET imaging study correlating serotonin synthesis and 5HT1A receptor binding in the human brain. In 2008, Dr. Frey received a CIHR postdoctoral fellowship award to study brain imaging in perimenopausal women with depression, under supervision of Dr. Claudio Soares and Dr. Meir Steiner at the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. Currently, Dr. Frey has over 100 articles published in peer-reviewed journals and his h-index is 31 according to the Web of ScienceTM, and 37 according to Google Scholar.

Featured Publications

Krawczak EM, Minuzzi L, Simpson W, Hidalgo MP, Frey BN. Sleep, Daily Activity Rhythms and Postpartum Mood: A Longitudinal Study across the Perinatal Period. Chronobiol Int 2016 (In press)

Lam RW, Milev R, Rotzinger S, Andreazza AC, Blier P, Brenner C, Daskalaskis ZJ, Dharsee M, Downar J, Evans KR, Farzan F, Foster JA, Frey BN, et al. Discovering biomarkers for antidepressant response: protocol from the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND) and clinical characteristics of the first patient cohort. BMC Psychiatry 2016;16(1):105.

Cudney LE, Frey BN, Streiner DL, Minuzzi L, Sassi RB. Biological rhythms are independently associated with quality of life in bipolar disorder. Int J Bipolar Disord 2016;4(1):9.

Smith M, Frey BN. Treating comorbid premenstrual dysphoric disorder in women with bipolar disorder. J Psychiatry Neurosci 2016;41(2):E22-3.

Pinho M, Sehmbi M, Cudney LE, Kauer-Sant'anna M, Magalhães PV, Reinares M, Bonnín CM, Sassi RB, Kapczinski F, Colom F, Vieta E, Frey BN, Rosa AR. The association between biological rhythms, depression, and functioning in bipolar disorder: a large multi-center study. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2016; 133(2):102-8.

Rowley CD, Bazin PL, Tardif CL, Sehmbi M, Hashim E, Zaharieva N, Minuzzi L, Frey BN, Bock NA. Assessing intracortical myelin in the living human brain using myelinated cortical thickness. Front Neurosci 2015;9:396.

Williams ME, Becker S, McKinnon MC, Wong Q, Cudney LE, Steiner M, Frey BN. Emotional memory in pregnant women at risk for postpartum depression. Psychiatry Res 2015;229(3):777-83.

Patel JP, Frey BN. Disruption in the Blood-Brain Barrier: The Missing Link between Brain and Body Inflammation in Bipolar Disorder? Neural Plast 2015;2015:708306.

Green SM, Haber E, Frey BN, McCabe RE. Cognitive-behavioral group treatment for perinatal anxiety: a pilot study. Arch Womens Ment Health 2015;18(4):631-8.

Simpson W, Glazer M, Michalski N, Steiner M, Frey BN. Comparative efficacy of the GAD-7 and EPDS to screen for generalized anxiety disorder in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Can J Psychiatry 2014;59(8):434-40.

Cudney LE, Sassi RB, Behr GA, Streiner DL, Minuzzi L, Moreira JC, Frey BN. Alterations in circadian rhythms are associated with increased lipid peroxidation in females with bipolar disorder. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 2014; 17(5):715-22.

Frey BN, Dias RS. Sex hormones and biomarkers of neuroprotection and neurodegeneration: implications for female reproductive events in bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorders 2014; 16(1):48-57.

Grande I, Magalhães PV, Chendo I, Stertz L, Fries GR, Cereser KM, Cunha ÂB, Gói P, Kunz M, Udina M, Martín-Santos R, Frey BN, et al. Val66Met polymorphism and serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor in bipolar disorder: an open-label trial. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2014; 129(5):393-400.

Frey BN, Andreazza AC, Frye MA, et al. Biomarkers in bipolar disorder: a positional paper from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Biomarkers Task Force. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2013; 47(4):321-32.

Yatham LN, Kennedy SH, Parikh SV, Shaeffer A, Beaulieu S, Alda M, O’Donovan C, MacQueen G, McIntyre RS, Sharma V, Ravindran A, Young LT, Milev R, Bond D, Frey BN, et al. Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) and International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) collaborative update of CANMAT guidelines for the management of patients with bipolar disorder: update 2013. Bipolar Disorders 2013; 15(1):1-44.

Frey BN, Minuzzi L. Co-morbid bipolar disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Real patients, unanswered questions. Arch Womens Ment Health 2013; 16(1):79-81.

Truong W, Minuzzi L, Soares CN, Frey BN, et al. Changes in cortical thickness across the lifespan in major depressive disorder. Psychiatry Res: Neuroimaging 2013; 214(3):204-11.

Frey BN, Simpson W, Wright L, Steiner M. Sensitivity and specificity of the mood disorder questionnaire as a screening tool for bipolar disorder during pregnancy and the postpartum period. J Clin Psychiatry 2012; 73(11):1456-61.

Lokuge S, Frey BN, Foster JA, Soares CN, Steiner M. Neurobiological basis of depression in women: New insights into the link between estrogen and serotonin. J Clin Psychiatry 2011; 72(11):1563-9.

Frey BN, Skelin I, Sakai Y, Nishikawa M, Diksic M. Gender differences in -[11C]MT brain trapping, an index of serotonin synthesis, in medication-free individuals with major depressive disorder: a positron emission tomography study. Psychiatry Res: Neuroimaging 2010; 183(2):157-66.

Frey BN, Hall G, Attard S, et al. Shift in the brain network of emotional regulation in midlife women: Is the menopausal transition the turning point? Menopause 2010; 17(4):840-5.

Matsuo K, Walls-Bass C, Nery FG, Nicoletti MA, Hatch JP, Frey BN, et al. Neuronal correlates of brain-derived neurotrophic factor Val66Met polymorphism and morphometric abnormalities in bipolar disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology 2009; 34(8):1904-13.

Frey BN, Zunta-Soares GB, Caetano SC, et al. Illness duration and total brain gray matter in bipolar disorder: evidence for neurodegeneration? Eur Neuropsychopharmacology 2008; 18(10):717-22.

Frey BN, Lord C, Soares CN. Depression during menopausal transition: a review of treatment strategies and pathophysiological correlates. Menopause International 2008; 14(3):123-8.

Frey BN, Rosa-Neto P, Lubarsky S, Diksic M. Correlation between serotonin synthesis and 5-HT1Areceptor binding in the living human brain: a combined [11C]-αMT and [18F] MPPF positron emission tomography study. Neuroimage 2008; 42(2):850-7.

Andreazza AC, Kauer-Sant’Anna M, Frey BN, et al. Oxidative stress markers in bipolar disorder: a meta-analysis. J Affect Disord 2008; 111(2-3):135-44.

Bearden CE, Thompson PM, Dutton RA, Frey BN, et al. Three-dimensional mapping of hippocampal anatomy in unmedicated and lithium-treated patients with bipolar disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology 2008; 33(6):1229-38.

Frey BN, Walss-Bass C, Stanley JA, et al. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor val66met polymorphism affects prefrontal energy metabolism in bipolar disorder. Neuroreport 2007; 8(15):1567-1570.

Frey BN, Andreazza AC, Nery FG, et al. The role of hippocampus in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder. Behav Pharmacol 2007; 18(5-6):419-430.

Frey BN, Stanley JA, Nery FG, et al. Abnormal cellular energy and phospholipid metabolism in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of medication-free individuals with bipolar disorder: an in vivo 1H MRS study. Bipolar Disorders 2007; 9(Suppl 1):119-127.

Tramontina J, Frey BN, Andreazza AC, et al. Val66met polymorphism and serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in bipolar disorder. Molecular Psychiatry 2007; 12(3):230-231.


  • Clinical Fellowship in Women’s Mental Health, McMaster University, Canada 
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in brain imaging, Montreal Neurological Institute (McGill University), Canada
  • Research Fellowship, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, USA
  • Ph.D., Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • M.Sc., Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • M.D., Psychiatry, FFFCMPA and Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil


Research Areas

This faculty member is a core member of the Research and Clinical Training (RCT) stream in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University. 

Cerebral mechanisms involved in the neurobiology of bipolar and major depressive disorder, with an emphasis in female-related psychiatric conditions.

Development of brain imaging and peripheral biomarkers to understand the course and treatment of mood disorders (

Role of circadian rhythms in postpartum depression and anxiety.


2014 - Early Research Award, Ministry of Research and Innovation of Ontario
2011 - Top Cited Article 2006 – 2010, Elsevier - Neuroscience Letters
2010 - Rafaelsen Young Investigators Award, International College of Neuro-Psychopharmacology
2009 - Young Investigator Travel Award, North American Menopause Society
2009 - W.G. Dewhurst Travel Award, Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology
2008 - Father Sean O'Sullivan Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
2008 - CIHR/Rx&D Fellowship Award, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
2007 - Research Colloquium for Junior Investigators, American Psychiatric Association
2006 - Samuel Gershon Junior Investigator Awards, International Society for Bipolar Disorders
2003 - Young Psychiatrist Award, Brazilian Psychiatric Association

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