Professor  |  Vice-Chair, Equity and Mentorship

Mary Jane Esplen

Consultation/Liaison Psychiatry

Dr. Esplen is a Full Professor and Vice-Chair, Equity and Mentorship in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. She is Faculty Member, Institute of medical Science, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto and current Chair of Decanal Committee for the Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Esplen held prior roles as Scientist and at the University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital, and is founder and former Chair of the de Souza Institute, a Knowledge Translation Centre focusing on continuing education for health professionals in oncology and/ or palliative care. Under Dr. Esplen’s leadership, de Souza Institute grew to become a nationally recognized brand offering quality programs through its innovative online platform with more than 16,000 health professionals completing curriculum. She is current Chair of Decanal Committee for Faculty of Medicine.

Dr. Esplen held consecutive Career Scientist awards from CIHR and NCIC for her research program in psychosocial oncology. Studies focused on the psychological impact of having cancer and / or of genetic testing and the design, standardization and testing of individual or group psychotherapeutic interventions to address coping, body image issues or grief and loss. She also completed a series of studies to develop and validate psychometric instruments to address psychological screening needs or measure specific impacts of being informed of a carrying a gene mutation on self-concept, now translated into more than 15 languages. 

Dr. Esplen has a PhD, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto and completed a Post-doctorate fellowship in psycho-oncology at Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. She values lifelong learning and recently completed the training program at the Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis.  She maintains a clinical practice with expertise in psycho-oncology, women’s mental health, coping with medical illness, palliative care, eating disorders, grief and loss and burnout/ resilience and has given  numerous keynotes and workshops on a wide- range of topics, genetic testing and cancer, psychotherapy, group therapy models, guided imagery, cancer survivorship, and resilience.

Dr. Esplen is the recipient of numerous awards, including the lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology and most recently the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Bernard Fox Memorial Award from the International Psycho-oncology Society for her contributions to the field of Psycho-oncology. 

Research Synopsis

Research Expertise includes the following: psychotherapy intervention research; psychosocial oncology; psychosocial impact of illness; psychosocial and behavioral impact of genetic testing,  women's mental health; knowledge translation and competency-based education, health care provider education research, psychotherapy trials, psychometric instruments, descriptive quantitative research, qualitative methodology.

Teaching expertise – Objects relation theory; Psychosocial and Psychotherapy Interventions  Group Therapy Models; Resilience, Burnout and Coping with grief and loss.