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CAMH scientist wins Polanyi Prize

November 21, 2012
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has announced that psychiatrist Dr. Aristotle Voineskos, Koerner New Scientist and head of CAMH's Kimel Family Translational Imaging-Genetics Research Laboratory in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, has been named one of five winners of the Polanyi Prize for university research in Ontario. The Polanyi Prizes are awarded by the Ontario government in the same categories as the Nobel Prizes (Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Economics, and Physiology/Medicine).

Marking its 25th anniversary this year, the prize was established to honour the achievement of John Charles Polanyi, a 1986 Nobel Prize Laureate in chemistry.

Dr. Voineskos, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, has won for his research in the category of Physiology/Medicine.

Using a lifespan-based approach, Dr. Voineskos' work combines brain imaging and genetics to improve current diagnostic classification and treatment strategies for people suffering from severe mental illness using innovative combinations of MRI brain imaging techniques and genetics. Populations currently under study include people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's disease, as well as healthy individuals to study healthy aging.

"The goal of the research is to improve the life of people with severe mental illness either by improving their symptoms or delaying or preventing onset illness," said Dr. Voineskos. "Stigma and discrimination continue to challenge these patients. We need to make the link between these scientific discoveries and improved public policy."

"This award recognizes the exceptional calibre of Dr. Voineskos' research, and the important contribution his work is making to our understanding of how the brain functions and how it becomes vulnerable to severe mental illness," said Benoit H. Mulsant, Physician-in-Chief at CAMH today. "His work and its potential impact offers inspiration to researchers and real hope to patients. We at CAMH couldn't be prouder."

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