Government of Canada announces $4.7M to support new mental health research projects at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute

News release

August 19, 2022 — Montreal, Quebec — Canadian Institutes of Health Research

It’s estimated that one in three people in Canada will experience a mental health illness in their lifetime. These illnesses have a devastating effect on people and their families. Recent scientific advances are improving our understanding of the underlying causes of serious mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia. This knowledge will guide the development of more effective treatments.

Canadian researchers are leading discoveries in many fields of mental health. Today, Élisabeth Brière, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced $4.7 million for five new projects to be led by researchers at the Douglas Research Centre within the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, which is affiliated with McGill University and the Montreal West Island Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre. This research will provide insights into the processes in the brain that contribute to mental illnesses.

These are the projects funded:

  • Dr. Gustavo Turecki received $1,323,450 to characterize the specific cells and molecular pathways in the brain responsible for depression.
  • Dr. Mark Brandon received $845,325 to identify how circuits in the brain control a phenomenon known as pattern differentiation in which the brain stores memories based on space and time and which can affect behaviour. 
  • Dr. Martin Lepage received $979,200 to develop a model of how cognitive impairments affect functioning in schizophrenia and related psychoses.  
  • Dr. Corina Nagy received $872,100 to uncover the precise molecular and cellular networks underlying the sex differences observed in major depressive disorder.
  • Dr. Tak Pan Wong received $749,700 to study how targeting the communication between brain cells may help increase resilience to chronic stress and prevent depression.

These projects were funded through CIHR’s Spring 2022 Project Grant competition.


“Our government is committed to supporting research that will lead to better mental health for Canadians. I want to congratulate all the researchers receiving this new funding. Their work will be instrumental in advancing our understanding of mental illnesses and will lead the way to more effective treatments for all.”

Élisabeth Brière
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Sherbrooke

“I am thrilled that five researchers from the Douglas Institute obtained Project Grants this session, with projects in depression, schizophrenia, and memory formation. This support from CIHR is what allows scientists to work toward breakthroughs in mental health research. Ultimately, understanding how the brain works is the key to improving the prevention and treatment of mental illnesses.”

Gustavo Turecki, MD, PhD, FRSC
Canada Research Chair, Major Depressive Disorder and Suicide
Scientific Director, Douglas Research Centre
Chair, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University

Associated links


Maja Staka
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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