By Patrick Callan
CAMH’s newly-launched Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics has big plans to use big data to unlock the mysteries of the brain when it comes to defining mental illness and identifying effective treatments.
Under the leadership of world-renowned scientist Dr. Sean Hill, the Krembil Centre has begun its global recruitment campaign to build an interdisciplinary team that will ultimately transform CAMH into a data-driven mental health organization.
“This is a very special moment in time,” says Dr. Hill, Director, Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics. “Many in healthcare and industry are realizing that we have a tremendous opportunity to use data to better understand the underlying causes of mental illness.”
Dr. Hill is currently looking for six independent scientists to lead teams focused on Computational Genomics, Brain Circuit Modelling, Whole Brain Modelling, Whole Person Modelling, Brain Health Knowledge Management and Artificial Intelligence. All six successful candidates will have faculty appointments at the University of Toronto. The Artificial Intelligence scientist would also be considered for a cross-appointment through collaboration with the Vector Institute.
“This person will lead a team here at CAMH in the Krembil Centre that will develop and apply machine learning techniques to the challenges we have in mental health diagnosis and care,” says Dr. Hill.
The search is also on for three engineers (Knowledge Engineering Lead, Brain Imaging Data, Molecular Data) and a Research Data Coordinator.
Dr. Hill’s first hire, David Rotenberg, Operations Director, previously served as CAMH’s Manager of Scientific Computing. In his new role, David is excited for the opportunity to leverage the power of computation and the expertise of great scientific minds to better understand the human brain in the context of mental health.
“This personally is what I’ve always wanted to do,” he says. “The brain is incredibly complex. We know we need a lot of high-quality data and we need people who understand how to work with the data. We are going to build that critical mass to help try and solve some of these problems and ultimately have an impact on our patients.”
Dr. Hill adds that cross-disciplinary collaboration will be the key to success at the Krembil Centre. The vision is to put a team in place that will do it all together – it can’t be about one individual coming in and solving a problem on their own, he explains.
“When you are within CAMH, you are within Canada’s largest mental health hospital. You’ve got direct collaborations with the clinicians who are operating the clinical care pathways and gathering the data,” he says. “We have an opportunity to work with them to transform the way we are measuring data, the way we are analyzing data, and the way it’s feeding back to impact care because of the close relationship to patients here.”
Both are optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead, especially in the growing area of applying artificial intelligence to healthcare.
“The explosion of techniques in artificial intelligence is delivering a major revolution for data science. Now we’re pioneering it for mental health. It represents a tremendous opportunity at the same time that it’s a great challenge,” says Dr. Hill.
If you’re interested in joining the inaugural Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics team, click here to view the job postings.