TORONTO, February 22, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) launched Canada's first mobile research laboratory to study mental health and addictions in communities across Ontario. The mobile lab will allow CAMH researchers to reach underserved populations in rural, remote and First Nations communities to help improve prevention and treatment services in these communities, and beyond.
"The mobile research lab fills a gap by bringing world-class research by epidemiologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists and social scientists to communities that are far from research centres," says Dr. Bruce G. Pollock, CAMH's Vice-President of Research. "The results will be shared with local health and social service agencies, enabling them to improve service delivery."
CAMH scientists will embark on the lab's first research program this spring. Researchers are targeting Ontario communities that are less advantaged due to higher unemployment or poverty rates, among other factors. Among the series of studies planned, one line of research will tease out the complex interactions between a person's genes and problems in the community, which may put people at risk for mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse and violence.
The lab will be used to conduct interviews and surveys, run focus groups, and take hair, saliva or blood samples to measure stress or obtain genetic information. This information will produce knowledge about communities that is often not available from large-scale telephone surveys. Over time, as information is gathered from across the province, CAMH researchers will create a powerful database that will advance our collective knowledge of mental illness, addictions and violence.
"The research lab is a major milestone of CAMH's Research Renaissance Project, which is our largest ever scientific endeavour," notes Dr. Pollock. "The lab reflects the project's vision of working from the neuron to the neighbourhood level to advance our understanding, treatment and prevention of mental illness."
The mobile research laboratory received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The first research program, Researching Health in Ontario Communities, was supported by a team grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
"This mobile research lab will have a real and positive impact on the Ontario communities who need it most," said The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the CFI.
"CIHR is pleased to support this unique project that will facilitate a partnership between individuals in rural communities and a renowned team of health researchers at CAMH committed to improving brain health through innovative research," said Dr. Anthony Phillips, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. "We hope that the mobile research laboratory approach will increase our knowledge of mental health and addiction among rural and remote communities."
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit www.camh.net.
Created by the Government of Canada in 1997, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) strives to build our nation's capacity to undertake world-class research and technology development to benefit Canadians. Thanks to CFI investment in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions are attracting and retaining the world's top talent, training the next generation of researchers, supporting private-sector innovation and creating high-quality jobs that strengthen Canada's position in today's knowledge economy.
For the past 10 years, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has supported better health and healthcare for Canadians. As the Government of Canada's health research investment agency, CIHR enables the creation of evidence-based knowledge and its transformation into improved treatments, prevention and diagnoses, new products and services, and a stronger, patient-oriented healthcare system. Composed of 13 internationally-recognized institutes, CIHR supports more than 13,600 health researchers and trainees across Canada.