Lab Canada

$1M for research into biological diagnostics for detection of mental illness

Québec City, QC – The Fondation de l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec (FIUSMQ) has received a $1 million donation from Bell Let’s Talk in support of research to detect early signs of mental illness in youth from families with a history of mental illness.


The researchers plan to use electroretinography to develop what would be the world’s first biological test to aid in diagnosing mental illness. Such a non-invasive test through the retina will enable researchers at Centre de recherche de l’IUMSQ to locate biomarkers and attempt to understand the behaviour of mental illnesses and their development early on.


The Centre de recherche de l’IUMSQ says that Pierre Marquet, a leading international researcher and holder of the only Canada Excellence Research Chair in mental health, has recently joined the clinic’s team.


“One of the major challenges of the 21st century is to unravel the mysteries of the brain,” said Dr. Yves De Koninck, professor of psychiatry and Neuroscience, Université Laval, scientific director of the Quebec Mental Health Institute Research Centre and director of research of the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de la Capitale-Nationale. “This is necessary to help combat such illnesses as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s, chronic pain, bipolar, depression and schizophrenia. The work of the Centre de recherche de l’IUSMQ in investigating how light affects the brain has enabled enormous progress to be made in the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry. But much remains to be done. We thank Bell for its financial support, which will help accelerate discoveries such as the development of the first biological test to aid in diagnosing mental illness.”