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Research in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience is focused broadly on increasing our understanding of factors leading to the onset and maintenance of mental illnesses and addiction, as well as the development and evaluation of new assessment methods and treatment approaches. The overall goal of this research is to improve quality of life and treatment outcomes in individuals struggling with mental illness and addiction. Our research mission is driven by our strategic aims to improve detection, access and transitions, to integrate psychiatry across medicine and healthcare and to advance person- and family-centred care.

Recent progress in the neurosciences and in genetics have led to increased interest in the neurobiological underpinnings of mental illness. Accordingly, Departmental faculty and learners have aligned to lead research and clinical efforts aimed at increasing our understanding of these factors. This work has relied heavily on state-of-the art techniques including neuroimaging (including functional neuroimaging) and genetics that, collectively, are expected to assist in advancing understanding of the anatomical substrates of psychiatric illnesses.

In addition, research into clinical interventions (medications, non-medication, somatic treatments such as transcortical magnetic stimulation and exercise and various evidence-based psychotherapy models) enable clinicians to use more tools to solve a wide range of clinical problems. This work takes place within the clinic and hospital, but also within our communities, where we seek to identify the social determinants of mental illness and work to reduce their impact through early-intervention strategies and partnerships with community members.

As research drives increased understanding of common psychiatric illnesses such as delirium, dementia and traumatic brain injury/acquired brain injury, psychiatrists are increasingly seen as the primary physicians to manage these conditions. Research into psychiatric illnesses and its biological bases positions psychiatry (and associated disciplines, including psychology) closely with other medical specialties for the identification and, often, collaborative co-management of complex clinical cases.

Psychiatric research undertaken in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster seeks to place our Department at the center of the international psychiatric community as part of the balance of research, education, and clinical care. With established (Offord Centre for Child Studies) and emerging (Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research) academic centers and key university (e.g., McMaster Student Wellness Centre) and hospital (e.g., Child and Youth Mental Health Program, McMaster Children’s Hospital, The Research Institute of St. Joe's Hamilton) partnerships, the Department is well positioned to lead the way in the understanding and management of psychiatric illness in our communities.



Margaret McKinnon

Margaret McKinnon

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