Dec. 6, 2022

Dr. Sheri Madigan wins Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research

Prestigious award recognizes Madigan as one of Canada’s preeminent scientists in children’s mental health research
Portrait of Dr. Sheri Madigan, who is standing outside wearing a lab coat

On December 5th at a gala ceremony in Ottawa, Dr. Sheri Madigan, a clinical psychologist with the Department of Psychology and the Alberta Children’s Research Institute, was presented with the 2022 Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research.

Annually, the prestigious Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize – sponsored jointly by the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research at The Royal and the Mach-Gaensslen Foundation of Canada – is awarded to an outstanding mental health researcher enabling future exploration and discovery.

“I am honoured to be the recipient of the 2022 Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research,” said Madigan. “Throughout my career, I have focused considerable efforts on examining the social factors that shape children’s mental health, therefore addressing and responding to real-world issues and clinical concerns. Now more than ever, it is so important to use research as a catalyst for informing clinical care, as well as improving mental health and treatment outcomes for children.”

She adds: “I am passionate about mobilizing this scientific knowledge to ensure it reaches vast audiences, including youth, parents, educators, policy-makers, judges, clinicians, health practitioners, and more. Through my ongoing research, I strive to continue shaping the future of mental health care and policy for children and their families, both nationally and internationally.”

Through a variety of partnerships with clinicians and community organizations, Madigan aims to bridge the gap between research and care with a special focus on the social environments and contexts that shape children’s mental health. By synthesizing existing data and conducting studies of her own, Madigan is seeking to uncover and better understand the root causes of mental health challenges in children, including parental mental health, pandemic impacts, experiences of adversity, and more. Madigan’s research also examines the resilience factors that buffer children from developing mental illness, such as receiving support from caregivers, teachers, or community members.

There is a growing need for access to mental health care for children and their families as wait lists continue to grow. In an effort to address this need, Madigan is working with clinicians, caregivers and youth stakeholders to create online psychoeducation modules to provide crucial support while children are waiting for treatment. With the support of interdisciplinary teams, Madigan’s ground-breaking research will help clinicians across the world develop actionable solutions for children and families with mental health needs.

 “Through her visionary research and dynamic partnerships, Dr. Madigan has the potential to change the landscape of mental health care for children,” said Dr. Florence Dzierszinski, president of the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research at The Royal and vice president of research at The Royal. “We are honoured to invest in her future research and look forward to furthering our understanding of how a child’s environment and experiences can impact their mental health.”

The Royal-Mach-Gaensslen national prize provides $100,000 in funding to Canadian researchers who are under the age of 45 and who have demonstrated records of accomplishment in research, excellence in scientific rigour, innovative thinking, imagination, originality, and a clear ability to work in partnership with other disciplines and/or research teams that extend beyond the institution with which they are affiliated. The award was jointly established in 2015 by the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research at The Royal and the Mach-Gaensslen Foundation of Canada.

Sheri Madigan is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, and a member of ACHRI, the Owerko Centre at ACHRI, the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Mathison Centre of Mental Health Research and Education at the Cumming School of Medicine. She is a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Child Development.