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Milestones and History

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) was founded in 1998 as a result of the merger of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, the Addiction Research Foundation, the Donwood Institute, and the Queen Street Mental Health Centre.

Some research milestones by CAMH and its founding organizations include:

Dr. Philip Seeman discovers that the effectiveness of antipsychotic drugs is directly related to their ability to block the dopamine D2 receptor. This opens the way to a scientific explanation for the drugs’ reactions. His papers are among the most highly cited in the schizophrenia literature.

The Addiction Research Foundation (now part of CAMH) is named the first World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in the field of drugs and alcohol. This international collaborative role continues today; in 2008, CAMH research underlies WHO’s adoption of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol.

Addiction Research Foundation develops RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving in Etobicoke) as a pilot project beginning Oct. 1, 1977. Today RIDE (now Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) is used by police across the country.

Opening of Canada’s first PET Centre (medical imaging) dedicated to research into mental illness. Over the following decade, CAMH’s PET Centre develops 12 of the 25 ligands (illuminating radiotracer agents) most commonly used in human neuroscience.

Merger of four organizations to form the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH): Queen Street Mental Health Centre, Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, Donwood Institute, and Addiction Research Foundation – a pioneering move recognizing the interconnected nature of mental illness and addiction.

CAMH scientists identify a new variant of the gene that causes Rett syndrome, a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that affects almost exclusively females. The discovery is translated into a licensed diagnostic tool for the disease that is currently available to the public.

CAMH PET studies reveal that most antidepressants miss the key target – serotonin receptors – for treating clinical depression. The discovery establishes a standard that anti-depressants being developed for the market be 80 per cent effective in hitting this target.

Opening of the Krembil Family Epigenetics Laboratory at CAMH – the first psychiatric epigenetics lab in the world. Epigenetics explores the “switches” that turn genes on or off, for example, the impact of nutrition and stress.

CAMH opens Canada’s first pharmacogenetics clinic, dedicated to understanding the genetics of people’s response to psychiatric medication and the side-effects they experience. Its vision is a new era of personalized medicine for people living with all forms of mental illness and addiction.

CAMH researchers discover the first concrete genetic linkage to schizophrenia via a subtype of the disease called Deletion Syndrome (22qDS).

CAMH scientists demonstrate that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy provides equivalent protection against depressive relapse as traditional antidepressant medication.

CAMH scientists discover higher levels of a brain protein called monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) in women after childbirth. This provides a possible explanation why post-partum blues and clinical depression occur, as MAO-A removes chemicals like serotonin that help maintain normal moods. Using this knowledge, scientists begin developing supplements to target this loss of nutrients, and lower the risk of post-partum depression. 

Using brain imaging and genetics, CAMH scientists identify a variation of a gene that may play a role in late-onset Alzheimer's disease.

CAMH launches first mobile research laboratory to study mental health and addictions in communities across Ontario. With a goal of improving prevention and treatment services, the mobile lab will visit and partner with local agencies in rural, remote and First Nations communities. 

The Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH officially opens. The institute is dedicated to understanding brain structure and function to identify the causes and best treatments for mental illness and addictions.
CAMH opens the Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention. The centre aims to research innovative non-invasive brain stimulation treatments including: Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Magnetic Stimulation Therapy. 
Campbell Institute scientists at CAMH are part of a large international team that identifies 108 genetic variants associated with schizophrenia.

Through brain imaging, Campbell Institute scientists show brain inflammation occurring during major depressive episodes. The finding provides a potential new target for depression treatment, as current therapeutics do not target inflammation.

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