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GBF Quarterly Newsletter Volume 4.2
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GBF Logo
Greetings,
 
Here is the latest newsletter.
 
Joelle Sholzberg
Communications Manager
 
In this issue:
Graham Boeckh Foundation logo
Project Ecosystem
Mapping Global Funding of Mental Health Research
Sam Lal photo
Reporting Mental Health Care System Indicators
 
Alliance logo
Dr. Bruno Giros
Major Scientific Breakthroughs for Graham Boeckh Chair


 
Alliance logo
Dr. Guy Rouleau 
GBF Director and Others Find a Role for Spontaneous Mutations in Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia 


 
IAYMH logo
Preventing Adolescent Depression: 1 Million for the Future

 
Project Ecosystem
 
   

The International Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders, administered by GBF, is an initiative focussed on greater knowledge exchange, collaboration and impact within the mental health research funding sector. The latest research initiative of the Alliance is called Project Ecosystem. This project was carried out by RAND Europe and maps the global funding of mental health research between 2009 and 2014. It paints a detailed picture of who the major funders are, what kinds of research they support and how their strategies relate to one another. The report uses the funding acknowledgements on journal papers to generate the data. The study also looks to the future, considering some of the challenges and opportunities for the field. The main report is accompanied by a set of 32 'deep dive' case studies of individual research funders, a set of six cross-cutting themes that emerged from the analysis and methodological appendices. 
 
The project was supported in Canada by the Graham Boeckh Foundation, Alberta Innovates Health Solutions and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; in the UK by the National Institute for Health Research, the Wellcome Trust and MQ: Transforming Mental Health Through Research; and in Australia by the Movember Foundation.
 
Reporting Mental Health Care System Indicators across Canadian Provinces
 
 
 
The value of reporting valid and reliable performance indicators for Canadian mental health services has been widely acknowledged. Relevant, accurate and timely performance information is critical for improving performance of health systems. In Canada, according to the Health Council of Canada, despite enhanced activity in health data reporting, there is still a dire need for achieving better accountability for health care spending and performance.
 
GBF, along with five other organizations, is supporting a project to create and report on six important mental health indicators that can be compared across five Canadian provinces: Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. The five provinces selected all have comparable, province-level data on mental health services. These provinces, when taken together, provide services to a large, diverse, and representative proportion of the Canadian population. The results of the project are likely to be relevant to other provinces and territories and, as an important demonstration proposal of mental health system performance measurement, will support their efforts to capture meaningful and commensurable data that, in turn, may be added to this initiative in the future.
 
The initiative is being led by Dr. Elliot Goldner, Professor and Associate Dean, Research, at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University. Dr. Goldner is the Director of CARMHA, an internationally recognized research centre conducting health policy and services research related to mental health and substance use.  Alongside CARMHA, Dr. Goldner has assembled an alliance of key research agencies to host the project.
 
The project will create opportunities for performance comparisons among health authorities and across provinces, thus providing for a better understanding of issues important to users of mental health services and identification of performance gaps to inform and support quality improvement. The project represents a crucial step forward in the provision of meaningful information that will help to guide sound policy and funding decisions for mental health services in Canada. To our knowledge, it will be the first project to have reported extensive, comparable indicators on the performance of mental health services in multiple provinces in Canada.
 
To learn more about this initiative, please click here.
Dr. Bruno Giros: Major Scientific Breakthroughs for Graham Boeckh Chair
 

 
Bruno Giros, PhD, Holder of the Graham Boeckh Chair in Schizophrenia Research, researcher at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University, and his team have recently published their research on vulnerability to depression in relation to factors that mediate resilience to chronic stress in the journal of Nature Neuroscience. They report the first-ever connection between noradrenergic neurons and vulnerability to depression; this breakthrough paves the way for new depression treatments that target the adrenergic system.
 
 
In a separate paper in Biological Psychiatry, Dr. Giros and his team demonstrate the role that dopamine plays on memory, which leads to a better understanding of schizophrenia (the news release can be viewed here).  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a central role in brain function, and many mental illnesses involve an imbalance in this chemical. What Dr. Giros has shown in particular is that dopamine is present in the hippocampus—the brain area associated with memory and learning—and that it plays a key role in this region. This opens up possibilities for developing new treatments to address the cognitive deficits of people with schizophrenia.
GBF Director, Dr. Guy Rouleau, and Others Find a Role for Spontaneous Mutations in Childhood-onset Schizophrenia

 
Spontaneous (non-inherited) DNA mutations likely play a role in the development of childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS), according to new research. In a study published online October 28, 2015 in the European Journal of Human Genetics, researchers identified 20 of these genetic changes that may contribute to the disease, offering insight into the genetic origins of COS and possible paths to treatment.
 
The research team from McGill University, led by Guy Rouleau, M.D., Ph.D, a 2010 NARSAD Distinguished Investigator grantee, included Ridha Joober, M.D. Ph.D., a 2000 NARSAD Young Investigator grantee. Judith Rapoport, M.D., a 2009 NARSAD Distinguished Investigator grantee and member of the Scientific Council, also participated in the research at the US National Institutes of Mental Health.
 
Dr. Rouleau is currently a GBF Director, as well as the inaugural holder of the Graham Boeckh Chair in Schizophrenia Research. Dr. Joober was the 2011 recipient of the Dr. Samarthji Lal award for mental health research, an award that GBF grants annually to a researcher in the area of psychiatry who is making an outstanding contribution in the field.
 
Over the last decade, it has become apparent that rare and spontaneous (or de novo), mutations are responsible for many human diseases, from cancer to mental illness. Now researchers are exploring if de novo mutations play a similar role in COS.
 
Childhood-onset schizophrenia may be caused, at least in part, by spontaneous genetic mutations, not found in either parent. In this small study, researchers identified 20 candidate mutations that offer insight into the genetic basis of the disease.
 
To read the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation press release, please click here.
Preventing Adolescent Depression: 1 Million for the Future
 
    
 
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disease and disability in adolescents, and suicide is one of the five leading causes of death among young people. More than ever, raising awareness among teenagers about the signs and symptoms of depression is essential. At a press conference in Montreal on May 3, 2016, the Mental Illness Foundation announced that since the creation of the Partners for Life program in 1998, 1 million young Quebecers have learned to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression. The program also draws attention to the resources available in the community and emphasizes the importance of talking to someone you trust in order to obtain help. Click here to watch their video.
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