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Identifying genetic biomarkers is the key to better and faster treatment for depression
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Discovering the causes of Canada’s most prevalent type of mental illness and selecting the best treatment for each patient is Dr. Sidney Kennedy’s mission

Seeking to solve one of modern medicine’s most complicated puzzles, Dr. Sidney Kennedy is putting down markers. Dr. Kennedy, senior scientist at Toronto’s Krembil Research Institute, is working to discover what causes people to become depressed, and how to select the best treatment for each individual patient. Dr. Kennedy is working with biomarkers – biological measures that are used to detect the presence or risk of a disease or to identify subgroups that could help clinicians select the most appropriate treatment. “We’re particularly interested in identifying clusters of markers that distinguish subtypes of depression and help to predict response to treatments, such as medication, psychotherapy and brain stimulation.”

Through his research, Dr. Kennedy hopes to find important clues to unlock the science of one of the most prevalent and burdensome types of mental illnesses in Canada. Although it is gradually becoming better understood, mental illness is a leading cause of disability in Canada. Nearly 4,000 people die by suicide each year – almost 11 people each day. In a 2016 survey about mental health, 40 per cent of respondents agreed they have experienced anxiety or depression, but have not sought medical help.