As a clinical researcher my main goals over the next five years are to continue my work with the homelessness in Vancouver’s downtown eastside, and set up a mild traumatic brain injury research program at the University of British Columbia.
Vancouver’s downtown eastside is home to our most vulnerable population, characterized by a mixture of primary psychiatric illness and refractory addictions. As part of a large team led by Dr. Bill Honer (Head of Psychiatry) we recruit individuals housed in single room occupancy hotels who then undergo detailed medical and psychiatric testing, including brain MRI. This is a longitudinal study that follows approximately 500 individuals for up to 5 years. The data generated is important to policy makers and to science. There are a multitude of opportunities to explore psychiatric and neurological illness from many angels within this study.
My lab is concurrently engaged in the study of traumatic brain injury. We are building a strong team that includes multiple researchers from multiple disciplines here at UBC and abroad. Under the umbrella of the BC Neuropsychiatry program we have recently started the “Neuropsychiatry Concussion Clinic” for those individuals with symptoms that do are not resolving following head trauma. This clinic and others serve as recruitment sites for research studies that focus on the development of biomarkers in concussion, which simply put means finding cognitive, imaging, and blood markers that may predict outcome and response to treatment in those with brain injuries.