This article originally appeared in a special report from The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health.
In 2016, thanks to the generosity of donor support, we opened the Brain Imaging Centre [BIC] at The Royal. With the knowledge that mental health and substance use disorders stem from biological brain dysfunctions, and that their care has to be informed by diagnostic imaging in the same way we do for physical ailments, we set out on an innovative and forward thinking research journey at The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR).
Over the last five years, we have recruited world-renowned research scientists from around the globe with key expertise in brain imaging, physics and neuroscience. After forming this team of specialists, we launched clinical research programs to identify biological indicators of mental health and substance use, to establish correlates between brain biology, diagnostics, and treatment effects.
Our field of mental health is not nearly as advanced as the fields of care in cancer or cardiovascular disease, so we still have much work to do.
Our vision for the future of the BIC is bright, hopeful and rich with new possibilities. As the BIC evolves from prototype to a centre of expertise, our leadership team at The Royal’s IMHR have plans that align our BIC with The Royal’s strategic plan over the next four years. In our accountable and accessible BIC, clinical research will be carried out with clients, not on clients - it will be shaped by the needs and questions of our clients, families and communities.
Research will inform care and care will inform research. Clinicians and research scientists will have the opportunity to collaborate like never before. We plan to bring together scientists, clinicians and communities to develop interdisciplinary, socially responsible and culturally-sensitive whole-person approaches to mental health and substance use needs.
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