The Royal receives $1.5M anonymous donation for mental health research

Funds will help scientists explore biomarkers for suicide ideation, advance treatment for major depression and study the impact of COVID-19

Editor's Note

This article originally appeared in a special report from The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health.


A transformational gift of $1.5M from anonymous donors through their fund at the Ottawa Community Foundation will help three key research initiatives at The Royal’s Institute for Mental Health Research (IMHR) make profound advancements to improve mental health.

The donation will support research on:

  • Examining physical indicators in the brain called biomarkers to understand the biological underpinnings and consequences of depression and suicide.
  • The mental and physical toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers.
  • Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) as a new treatment for people with persistent depression.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, and as the stigma around mental illness slowly dissipates, more and more people are reaching out and asking for help. We want to make sure the best possible care is there for them. Research plays a key role in that,” says Joanne Bezzubetz, president and chief executive officer, The Royal. 

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“The Ottawa Community Foundation is very pleased to be part of the ground-breaking research this gift will make possible,” says Bibi Patel, former vice-president of the Foundation. “The donors who are making this generous donation have given much thought and consideration to come to a decision that would mark their legacy gift to our community.”  

“There is still so much about the human brain and mind we don’t understand, both in health and in illness. As our understanding grows, it will improve our ability

to provide patients with more personalized and effective care. That is where research comes in,” states Dr. Florence Dzierszinski, president of the IMHR and vice-president of research at The Royal. “Innovative research in mental health and addictions is bringing us closer to finding answers to some of the biggest questions that currently exist within the mental health and addictions care landscape.”

JenniferI am very grateful to the donors for their extraordinary generosity and support for our research efforts. It is incredibly humbling to have the opportunity to explore the mental and physical toll of the pandemic on our healthcare providers who are sacrificing so much to deliver continuing care. 

— Dr. Jennifer Phillips, scientist, The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research. 


SaraResearch in this area is leading to a better, more personalized standard of care for patients with depression and related mental health disorders, for whom traditional treatments haven’t worked.

— Dr. Sara Tremblay, scientist, The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research.


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