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James Kennedy

Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Head, Psychiatric Neurogenetics
Head, Molecular Science
Head, Tanenbaum Centre for
Director, Molecular Brain Science Research Department, Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute CAMH

Years Active in the IMS: 1994 - Present

The IMS supported my beginning as an Assistant Professor and allowed me to attract highly skilled graduate students in the early part of my career, which empowered my ability to develop in the exciting new area of human molecular genetics and psychiatric disorders.

As the years progressed, I applied genetics to both child psychiatry and neuroimaging. My Ph.D. student, Dr. Paul Arnold, has a fantastic project in genetic studies of magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the living human brains of young people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He found a remarkable correlation between genetic variation and the changes in GABA/glutamate in the brains of the kids who responded to SSRI treatment. This was one of the first gene+ neuroimaging biomarkers for treatment response, certainly in children. Paul defended his Ph.D. in the IMS in 2007 and was later attracted away from the University of Toronto to become Vice Chair of Research in psychiatry at the University of Calgary.

Another prominent IMS Ph.D. student, Aristotle Voineskos, for whom I was a primary supervisor, greatly expanded the breadth of the burgeoning area of discovering correlations between genetic variation and disease manifestations seen via neuroimaging. Dr. Voineskos is now an Associate Professor and leads the Kimel Family Translational Imaging-Genetics Research Laboratory at CAMH.

More recently, Jennie Pouget completed her IMS Ph.D. in the complicated area of genome-wide human variation datasets combined with neuroimmune and inflammatory mechanisms to uncover remarkable new insights into the relationship between immune system genes and schizophrenia. She has now completed her medical school training and has been accepted into the psychiatry residency training at the University of Toronto.

IMS has supported the successful award applications of many of my students to agencies such as CIHR, Brain Canada, Weston Foundation, and Vanier.