Montreal, QC – A new research centre that focuses on finding scientific methods to establish early childhood risk factors for mental illness is being launched in Montreal with a $4.5 million donation from the Irving Ludmer Family Foundation. The new institute – the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health – is associated with the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and the Jewish General Hospital.
Dr.Michael Meaney, CM, PhD, CQ, FRSC, a world-class researcher recognized for his work in epigenetics, has been named scientific director of the new centre, which will be located at the Douglas Institute in Montreal. Renovations are currently underway, and the centre’s laboratories are expected to be opened sometime in the coming year.
Dr Meaney is also associate director of the Research Centre and Douglas Institute researcher at the Douglas Institute; James McGill professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University; and director, Program for the Study of Behaviour, Genes and Environment, also at McGill University.
Researchers at the new Ludmer centre will engage in a special multidisciplinary research platform, as they 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, or why are some children affected a great deal by high-risk environments while others are more resilient?
The approach combines disciplines including neuroscience, computational biology, mathematics, genetics, epigenetics, bioinformatics, epidemiology and computer science. The centre will analyze and process complex bodies of data from a number of research projects around the world.
The scope of research is enormous and, once complete, the project will represent an investment of over $11 million over four years. The $4.5-million donation represents a very significant part of this investment.
“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. 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.” said Dr. Meaney.