Submitted by: Richard Cuddy, MNO Credit River Métis Council President and Dr. Melissa Perreault

Melissa and Richard
Dr. Melissa Perreault with MNO Credit River Métis Council President Richard

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen Dr. Melissa Perreault was recently one of five basic science researchers in Canada to be awarded the prestigious National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), now known as the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation (BBRF), Young Investigators Award for 2014.

BBRF is an organization that plays a pivotal role in providing research support to scientists committed to mental health research. The goal of the BBRF is to “alleviate the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research.”

The BBRF selects the most promising ideas for the NARSAD Awards to young, independent and distinguished investigators. One of the priority areas of the BBRF is to fund basic neuroscience research in an attempt to understand what happens in the brain to cause mental illness.

A researcher at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Dr. Perreault acquired her Ph.D. in psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience. Her research focuses on discerning the neurobiological mechanisms underlying cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia.

“I am optimistic that this research could result in the identification of novel therapeutic targets not only in schizophrenia, but in other disorders of cognitive dysfunction,” stated Dr. Perreault. “As individuals who are dealing with mental health issues manifest distinct symptoms, and therapeutic interventions must be tailored to each individual patient, it is critical to understand how these disease processes work from the level of the gene up to the manifestation of the behaviour.

Dr. Perreault is one researcher of a team of basic science and clinical scientists at CAMH, a facility that combines mental health research with clinical care, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH, among other agencies in Toronto, offers special services to Aboriginal peoples experiencing addiction and mental health issues.

“This award is an exceptional accomplishment and we look forward to the outcomes of Dr. Perreault’s research in the area of schizophrenia,” said Dr. Renee Linklater, CAMH’s Manager of Aboriginal Community Engagement. “It is promising to see Métis scientists contributing directly to the field of evidence in mental health research. With expertise existing in the community, it will further the advancement of Métis specific interventions that will improve the healing and wellbeing of Aboriginal populations in general.”

Dr. Perreault’s achievement, like all Métis success stories, demonstrates how much MNO citizens’ contributions can benefit their own communities and also the population of Ontario and Canada.

Congratulations on this great achievement!