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Sunnybrook researchers awarded $1.25 million grant to investigate next generation treatment options for PTSD

December 5, 2018

Sunnybrook team and MP Rob Oliphant Rob Oliphant, Dr. Andy Smith and a resident of the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre Dr. Peter Giacobbe

Sunnybrook researchers are investigating novel and innovative ways to help people suffering from treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with the help of a $1.25 million grant through the Government of Canada’s Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund.

The grant will support the first dedicated neuromodulation program for PTSD in Canada at the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation at Sunnybrook. Neuromodulation influences or interrupts brain circuitry at the root of common and challenging brain disorders.

Rob Oliphant, Member of Parliament for Don Valley West, made the announcement at Sunnybrook, which is the only centre in Toronto to receive this funding.

The centre will provide clinical service to patients and veterans with PTSD and establish an academic research centre to learn about the circuitry driving PTSD and the development of better treatment options.

‎PTSD is a mental health disorder that may develop after traumatic, dangerous or terrifying experiences. More than 3 million Canadians suffer from PTSD. While psychotherapy and medication are often effective first-line treatments, 20-30% of patients with PTSD do not respond and are considered treatment-resistant.

PTSD may be triggered by abuse, natural or unnatural disasters, accidents or military combat. Symptoms can negatively impact a person’s everyday living or may lead to death by suicide.

Phase 1 of this trial is open to Canadian residents and will involve five patients with PTSD who are 18-70 years old. Patients interested in participating in our research studies can fill out this form.

Recruitment is underway for a pilot trial investigating Deep Brain Stimulation for treatment-resistant PTSD, which will in begin in 2019.

“We are incredibly grateful for this grant that will help Sunnybrook researchers investigate cutting edge treatment options to help patients whose lives are destroyed by treatment-refractory PTSD”, says Dr. Peter Giacobbe, psychiatrist and clinical lead at the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation at Sunnybrook. “While psychotherapy and medication are important methods of treating PTSD, they don’t always work for everyone. This funding will allow us to investigate safe and effective ways of one day treating PTSD and personalizing care options for patients”

“Our program at Sunnybrook is unique in Canada,” adds Dr. Nir Lipsman, neurosurgeon and director of the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation. “The centre will provide a needed clinical service to patients and veterans with PTSD, as well as an academic research hub where we will be at the leading edge of developing the next generation of treatments for PTSD.”

“Given Sunnybrook’s rich and proud history caring for veterans, this grant is especially meaningful in helping us look ahead to the future and help the young people of today who may experience not only the psychological impact of violent combat and conflict, but also those suffering PTSD as a result of other trauma,” Dr. Andy Smith, President and CEO of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “It is an exciting opportunity to drive innovation for the future and bold treatment possibilities that may provide hope to patients with treatment-refractory PTSD, and their families.”

Media contact:
Jennifer Palisoc
Sunnybrook Communications & Stakeholder Relations