Clinician Scientist Profiles: General Stream
I completed my MD and previous psychiatry training back in Iran before pursuing a new life in Canada, which includes redoing my residency. Nothing fills me more with joy than pursuing the unknown. I am interested in learning about the most obvious, yet less known, part of any therapeutic intervention, the placebo. Along with my supervisors/advisor, Drs. Mark Sinyor, Matthew Burke, and Krista Lanctot, in my CSP project I plan to study the mechanisms of placebo effects and their correlates across major psychiatric conditions, which could eventually promote patient care quality. I will start with a systematic review of published RCTs and then may plan to expand my research as an add-on part to RCTs with the placebo arm(s). During my previous life as a psychiatrist in Iran, I also participated in research projects and published in several peer-reviewed journals, including papers on placebo effects in panic disorder and OCD. Outside of professional life, I enjoy poetry, literature, calligraphy, and spending time with my wife and daughter.
Ayan Dey completed his undergraduate degree in neuroscience at McMaster University, and graduated from the University of Toronto's MD-PhD program. His current research interests center around assessment and evaluation of novel interventions for persistent cognitive impairment among adults with neuropsychiatric disorders. He is currently working with Dr. Giacobbe at Sunnybrook to study the effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation on cognition and sleep in adults with treatment-resistant depression. Prior to residency, he completed a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the Rotman Research Institute (Baycrest) wherein he applied multimodal functional neuroimaging to study cognitive heterogeneity among older adults with vascular risk factors and studied the effects of cognitive rehabilitation among adults with traumatic brain injury. In addition to his current academic and clinical interests in sleep, cognition and brain injury, he is actively involved in quality improvement research related to measurement-based care in mental health.
With interests in neuropsychiatry and measurement-based care, David Freedman is a PGY-4 Psychiatry Resident Physician. His past work has focused on medical education related to measurement-based care and quality improvement. At present, he conducts research under the supervision of Dr. Anthony Feinstein on research related to the neuropsychiatry of multiple sclerosis.
David Freedman on PubMed
David Freedman on PubMed
Helena Kim completed her BSc in psychology and human biology and PhD in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Toronto. Her past work examined downstream targets of mitochondrial complex I dysfunction in patients with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression using post-mortem brain samples and animal and cell models. She completed her post-doctoral work at Queen’s University identifying microRNA markers of bipolar disorder and drug response in patients with MDD using clinical trial samples. Currently, her research interest includes identifying demographic, clinical, and molecular predictors of drug response in patients with mood disorders.
Supervisor: Dr. Benoit Mulsant
Tina Guo obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary, and subsequently graduated from the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine’s MD program. She previously conducted public health research, examining the use of administrative data, at the O’Brien Institute for Public Health. In addition, she also conducted stem cell research in C. elegans roundworms in the lab of Dr. David Hansen. Currently, she is working with Dr. Mark Sinyor, examining the effect of various features of media portrayal of suicide on subsequent rates of suicide. Her research interests include the association between media and suicide, medical education and mentorship, and medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in the psychiatric population.
Prior to residency, I studied Health Sciences at McMaster University, followed by a graduate degree (MSc) in neuroscience at Queen’s University and medical school at Western University. Throughout my training, I have been involved in multiple research projects including cultural comparison of stigma and deep brain stimulation. My current research interests include novel therapeutic modalities for psychiatric disorders, specifically neurostimulation. As a part of the research team at the MRI-guided rTMS clinic (Toronto Western Hospital), I am currently looking at novel targets and optimization of parameters of rTMS treatment for various psychiatric disorders including personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder.
I completed my MD at the University of Toronto, and I hold a Bachelor’s in Music from Berklee College of Music, in Boston, MA, where I studied music therapy. My research interests are in applying neuromodulation to complex neuropsychiatric conditions, such as traumatic brain injury and functional neurological disorder. I am also interested in delineating potential treatment-specific effects of neuromodulation from placebo effects in these patients. My CSP project focuses on the role of pre-treatment expectations and placebo effects on neurocircuitry activation for patients with treatment resistant depression undergoing transcranial magnetic stimulation. I am being supervised by Dr. Peter Giacobbe, Dr. Sean Nestor, and Dr. Matthew Burke.
During my MD-PhD studies under the supervision of Dr. J. Roder and Dr. A. Wong, I found a role for Neuronal calcium sensor-1 in motivated behaviour and dopamine signaling in mice. In my residency, I hope to apply my background in preclinical research on brain circuitry and behaviours to inform therapies for patients. Advances in brain stimulation provide many opportunities to translate knowledge about brain circuitry from human neuroimaging and preclinical rodent models into circuit-based treatments for psychiatric disorders. As a CSP resident, I plan to investigate the effectiveness of targeted brain stimulation (e.g. deep brain stimulation, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) for treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder.
I am fascinated by the biology underlying psychiatric disorders, and my research uses genomic data as a window into that biology. I am particularly interested in psychoneuroimmunology, the way the brain and immune system interact to influence behaviour and predispose to psychiatric disorders. Prior to residency, I completed MD/PhD training at the University of Toronto with a research specialization in statistical genetics. I co-developed a method (BUHMBOX) to identify biologically relevant groups of patients in genetic samples with limited clinical data (e.g. immune-driven subgroups). I have collaborated with international consortia on genome-wide association studies of schizophrenia and immune-mediated disorders, and identified significant genetic overlap between schizophrenia and certain immune-mediated disorders (those with a strong T-cell component). In my CSP research I am continuing to use big data to better understand similarities and differences in biology – including neuroimmune mechanisms – across psychiatric disorders.
Erene Stergiopoulos completed her BSc in psychology and MA in history and philosophy of science at the University of Toronto. Her past work includes qualitative research on the experiences of medical students with disabilities, and uses a socio-cultural lens to study the effects of the hidden curriculum on their professional identity construction. Her current research uses mixed methods approaches to study barriers to physician health disclosure. She also works as a freelance health journalist translating psychiatric research and ethics for a general audience, with bylines in Nautilus, STAT News, and VICE.
Co-Supervisors: Dr. Juveria Zaheer & Dr. Tina Martimianakis
I am a second year psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto. I am interested in the clinical and research implications of
differential placebo effects in late-life depression.