The Douglas Mental Health University Institute and the Jewish General Hospital have announced a donation of $4.5 million from the Irving Ludmer Family Foundation. This donation is one of the largest ever in mental health. It will be put towards creating a centre for neuroinformatics and mental health.
The new centre is a massive collaborative undertaking to improve research into mental health. Accordingly named the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health, the facility will have a unique multidisciplinary research platform. Its ultimate target will be to significantly reduce the rates of mental illness by discovering scientific methods to establish early childhood risk factors.
With this in mind, researchers at the Ludmer Centre will attempt to answer questions such as:
- How does the interaction of genes with favourable and unfavourable environments affect a child’s brain development and risk of mental illness?
- Why are some children affected a great deal by high-risk environments while others are more resilient?
To determine the answers, the centre will use a first-in-kind approach that incorporates various branches of research including neuroscience, computational biology, mathematics, genetics, epigenetics, bioinformatics, epidemiology and computer science. It will also analyze and process complex bodies of data from a number of research projects around the world.
Transforming mental health
Once completed, the project will represent an investment of more than $11 million over four years. The donation from the Irving Ludmer Family Foundation is a large part of this overall investment.
“Although we have wonderful psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses and social workers, all providing help to patients in exemplary fashion, mental health in Canada is sadly not functioning efficiently. This collaborative approach is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen in Québec and has the capacity to transform the way we think about mental health,” said Dr. Hartley S. Stern, MD, Executive Director of the Jewish General Hospital.
The new centre is an opportunity for Québec to become a leader in the study of human development and mental health.
“The Ludmer Centre will harness basic and clinical research at the Douglas Institute, McGill University, the Lady Davis Institute and the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital to become an international hub for the study of human development and mental health,” said Dr.Michael Meaney, CM, PhD, CQ, FRSC, a world-class researcher recognized for his work in epigenetics and Scientific Director of the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics. “If we look out over a playground of happy 5-year-olds at play, full of the energy and joy of childhood, we know that as early as 6 to 8 years of age some of these same children will be afflicted with disorders such as attention deficit disorder or social anxiety, which will rob them of the happiness at younger ages. By adolescence, many of these same children will turn to drugs and towards a path that leads to anxiety disorders and depression. The obvious question is what can we do to prevent such fates? This centre will be part of the solution and represents a great step towards the ability to directly address issues associated with child mental health.”
Photo caption: Announcement of the creation of the Ludmer Centre for neuroinformatics and mental health. From left to right: Mrs. Ludmer, Mr. Bick, Ms. McVey, Dr.Meaney, Dr. Stern. Sitting: Mr. Ludmer (CNW Group/Douglas Mental Health University Institute).