Three innovative SickKids projects awarded funding to support brain and mental health programs
From expanding a deep brain stimulation program, to increasing global neurovascular research collaborations and developing a parenting program for children’s mental health, recipients of a new research fund have been recognized for innovative programs supporting brain and mental health.
Earlier this year, the Garry Hurvitz Centre for Brain & Mental Health (GH-CBMH) at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) announced the inaugural winners of the Program Development Fund. The fund offers SickKids researchers up to $450,000 for projects making an impactful contribution in the brain or mental health space.
Learn how this year’s recipients are working to improve care at SickKids and internationally.
Establishing a national Paediatric Deep Brain Stimulation (pDBS) program
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is an established therapy for various adult health conditions and presents novel opportunities for care for children with movement conditions, epilepsy and other brain conditions.
Co-led by Dr. Carolina Gorodetsky, Staff Physician in the Division of Neurology and Program Director of the Movement Disorder Fellowship, Dr. George Ibrahim, Paediatric Neurosurgeon in the Division of Neurosurgery and Scientist in the Neurosciences & Mental Health program, and Sara Breitbart, a Nurse Practitioner in the Division of Neurosurgery, this project aims to expand the SickKids Paediatric DBS (pDBS) clinic into a national strategy and help make this technology accessible to paediatric patients across Canada, with particular emphasis on under-resourced communities.
“Our program aims to deliver personalized precision medicine to every child who might benefit from neuromodulation and establish strategic partnerships to facilitate access to potentially life-altering and life-saving technology for children from coast to coast,” says Gorodetsky.
Establishing a Paediatric Neurovascular Centre for improving disease outcomes
Diseases of the blood vessels in the brain account for significant lifelong morbidity and mortality in children, as well as considerable economic and emotional costs to families.
Co-led by Dr. Prakash Muthusami, Neurointerventional Radiologist in the Department of Diagnostic Imaging, and Dr. Peter Dirks, Senior Scientist in the Developmental & Stem Cell Biology program and Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery, this project seeks to establish a comprehensive Paediatric Neurovascular Centre at SickKids to meet the challenges associated with brain diseases and help improve patient outcomes.
“This centre will be the first of its kind in Canada,” says Muthusami. “Organizing and implementing structured educational resources will help equip families with information, train the next generation of neurovascular experts, and amplify our experiences worldwide.”
Building a clinical pathway for I-InTERACT-North parenting program to optimize mental health outcomes
Mental health concerns place enormous burdens on the family as well as education and health-care systems. Led by Dr. Tricia Williams, Clinical Neuropsychologist in the Department of Psychology and Associate Scientist in the Neurosciences & Mental Health program, this project will fund the implementation of a clinical research program developed with, and for, SickKids families called I-InTERACT-North. This evidence-based early parenting intervention aims to identify and respond to child mental health needs before significant symptoms manifest.
Developed for families of children with behavioural difficulties associated with congenital and neonatal neurodevelopmental risk, the program provides online training modules and therapy sessions to help improve parenting competence and child behaviour.
“Including feedback from SickKids families was an essential part of developing I-InTERACT-North,” says Williams. “Families require support options for their child’s behavioural and emotional development that are flexible and matched to their needs.”
Find out more about the Program Development Fund and how the GH-CBMH is helping to support brain and mental health research at SickKids.