CORE TEAM

The CEYMH collaborates with more than 20 researchers in various fields of research (many part the Youth Mental Health & Early Intervention Theme-based group at the Douglas Research Centre) and clinical service leads in the Montreal West Island Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre.

CHIEF INVESTIGATORS

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Lena Palaniyappan, MD, PhD
CEYMH Director

Research Focus: My research program has a broad focus on exploiting neuroscience to inform early interventions for youth in need. Most of my work to date has been on severe mental illnesses such as psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, and depression. To this end, I take a pragmatic approach: I use all accessible tools that are promising (without loyalty to any specific technology) and appreciate the urgency of early intervention in psychiatry.

Fun Fact: I enjoy reading, travelling, writing poetry (in Tamil), and consuming more coffee than I should.

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David Benrimoh, MDCM, MSc, FRCPC

Research Focus: I work with youth who are at risk for developing psychosis, and I hope to understand how the way youth use information present in the world around them changes as psychosis develops. Understanding these changes will hopefully lead to better prediction of which youth will develop psychosis and better understanding of the brain changes that cause this. I want to use this knowledge to design new, low-side effect, non-invasive treatments to help prevent or delay psychosis in youth. 

Fun Fact: One of my passions is my Lego collection, which I only seriously started collecting as an adult.

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Linda Booij, PhD

Research Focus: My work focuses on the neurodevelopmental mechanisms of eating disorders. The research includes individuals with eating disorders and involves imaging technology, genetic and epigenetic markers, as well as behavioural and cognitive measures. I also conduct longitudinal research on risk factors for mental health issues in children and adolescents. These projects involve community samples and are conducted in collaboration with various researchers at CHU Sainte-Justine and other researchers across Canada.

 

 

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N. Keita Christophe, PhD

Research Focus: My work focuses on the development and effects of different factors relating to ethnically/racially minoritized (+immigrant) youth and families’ cultural identities values and behaviours. These cultural resilience factors not only promote well-being and healthy psychosocial development, but may also reduce the harmful impact of racialized stressors such as ethnic-racial discrimination.

Fun Fact: I am a member of the French National Lacrosse Team and competed in the Lacrosse World Championships in 2023 in San Diego.

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Manuela Ferrari, PhD

Research Focus: Using cutting-edge methodologies (co-design, gamification, learning health systems), my research adapts, creates, and tests digital interventions in real-word settings, focusing on: (1) e-Mental Health assessment and monitoring; (2) e-Mental Health treatments; and (3) Virtual Reality simulation training. The overall program seeks to generate high quality knowledge on the use of digital interventions in relation to types of care, access, utilization, quality and safety, equity, and health outcomes to inform the design of future virtual care models and care solutions in Canadian digital mental heath systems.

Fun Fact: I love playing hockey, but don’t enjoy watching it.

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Anthony J. Gifuni, MD, PhD (cand.), FRCPC

Research Focus: I specialize in Youth Mood Disorders, focusing on the structural and functional neural correlates of suicidal behaviors in young individuals. My research seeks to uncover the neurodevelopmental pathways that contribute to psychopathology as youths transition to adulthood. Through this understanding, I aim to pioneer earlier and more tailored interventions for mood-disordered youth during this vulnerable developmental period.

Fun Fact: In my clinical practice, I specialized in Acceptance-Commitment Therapy. I also practice interpersonal group therapy for youth followed at the Douglas.

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Ridha Joober, MD, PhD

Research Focus: I am the Director of the PEPP-Montreal program, a program offering care to young patients experiencing with a first episode of psychosis, and a clinician and researcher in the field of developmental disorders (ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, behavioural disruptive disorders).

Fun Fact: I believe that being active is the best strategy to keep physically heathy and mentally sane. Accordingly, I commute to work running, walking, kayaking, skiing, swimming… Do not be surprised if one day you see someone landing a hot air balloon on the grounds of the Douglas Hospital. That would be me!

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Srividya Iyer, PhD

Research Focus: My work seeks to ensure that more young people, including those with serious mental illnesses like psychosis, have timely access to high-quality, youth-friendly mental healthcare and enjoy well-being and purpose. I partner with youth, families and communities to influence practice and policy in Canada and globally. I lead ACCESS Open Minds, a pan-Canadian network of 250+ diverse stakeholders serving urban, rural, Indigenous, post-secondary and homeless youths at 16 sites. I am also a research leader for Aire ouverte, Quebec’s integrated youth services network and the pan-Canadian Indigenous integrated youth services network. I also support mental health capacity-building globally, including in India, where I was born.

Fun Fact: I love listening to Bollywood songs, and know the entire lyrics of several hundreds of them!

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Sherif Karama, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Research Focus: The focus of my research program is to gain a better understanding of the neurobiology of cognitive ability development and differences. I am very interested by the respective impacts that genes, environment, and their interactions have on brain development and the corollary consequences that these impacts can have on cognitive ability.

Fun Fact: I love gummy bears (the Haribo brand). I also enjoy playing classical piano (Chopin nocturnes come to mind), stargazing, and modelling financial market behaviour.

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Katie Lavigne, PhD

Research Focus: My research strives to understand the nature and brain mechanisms of cognitive dysfunction in psychiatric disorders to inform prevention and treatment. We develop open-source tools to improve measurement of cognition in real-world and laboratory settings, examine real-time changes in cognition using digital devices, and use neuroimaging to understand how the brain shapes cognitive variability and drives psychiatric symptoms.

Fun Fact: As a child, I participated in a long-term research study examining the effects of musical training on academic success. 

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Martin Lepage, PhD

Research Focus: My research focuses on improving the well-being of individuals with psychotic disorders by exploring neurocognitive and neuroimaging markers of remission in first episode psychosis. I have also established the Centre for Personalized Psychological Intervention for Psychosis (Ci3P), which provides psychological interventions to both outpatient and inpatient clinics associated with the Psychosis Program, and the CRISP research team, which allow service users to participate in research activities, including new interventions (e.g. CBT for social anxiety and engulfment, cognitive remediation therapy for memory problems) and the assessment of online interventions using novel digital technologies, such as web-based platforms (e.g. HoryzonsCA) and virtual reality.

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Corina Nagy, PhD

Research Focus: I specialize in the study of molecular biomarkers. When our brain cells react to a specific situation, they undergo changes in their molecular outputs. These changes can be packaged within tiny carriers and transported into the bloodstream for analysis. By examining the contents of these carriers, we can identify signals that indicate whether someone is at risk of developing a mental illness, even before they exhibit symptoms. Furthermore, we can use these signals to gauge the effectiveness of an intervention in how it impacts their brain’s response.

Fun Fact: Over the years I have mastered the art of moving my ears!

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Massimiliano Orri, PhD

Research Focus: In my research, I try to understand why young people engage in behaviors that are harmful to themselves, such as self-harm and suicidal behaviors. I use large longitudinal cohorts to investigate how characteristics of their individuals, their environment, and their life circumstances increase or reduce their risk of engaging in suicidal behavior. As a clinical psychologist, I provide evidence-based psychotherapy to youth suffering from depression and suicidal behavior.

Fun Fact: When I’m not sitting in my office, you can likely find me riding my horse in the countryside!

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Delphine Raucher-Chéné, MD, PhD

Research Focus: To understand the early stages of bipolar disorder, particularly in terms of cognitive characteristics, in order to improve the early detection of BD, provide accurate interventions, and potentially prevent the transition to more disabling stages of the disorder.

Fun Fact: I am passionate about music and concerts.

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Michel Spodenkiewicz, MD, PhD

Research Focus: I’m a child and adolescent psychiatrist dedicated to research on mental health in vulnerable youth. My research focuses on suicidal behavior, self-harm, depressive and stress-related disorders (including PTSD), and neurodevelopmental conditions. Utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methods, I aim to understand developmental trajectories and incorporate perspectives from stakeholders—healthcare providers, parents, and patients—to improve the identification and effectiveness of treatments for mental health disorders. My goal is to offer comprehensive insights into psychiatric disorders in youth, considering biological, clinical, epidemiological, systemic, and cultural factors.

Fun Fact: I have a passion for ultra-marathons. There’s something exhilarating about tackling distances that defy conventional logic. Ultra-running: where the journey is just as rewarding as the finish line.

SERVICE LEADS

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Ina Winkelmann MSW, DESS
Associate Director, Mental Health and Addiction Programs, CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal