April 3, 2019

Excellence in early psychosis research

How Dr. Jean Addington, PhD, is changing youth mental health research
Excellence in early psychosis research
Excellence in early psychosis research

A summer job at a psychiatric day centre turned out to be life-changing for researcher Dr. Jean Addington, PhD. Today, Addington ranks among the most respected youth mental health researchers in the world.

Her path to becoming a leading researcher was quite unique; it almost didn’t happen. After earning a Master of Arts in English, Addington accepted a summer
job in London, England at a psychiatric centre for people with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses. An occupational therapist at the centre went on sick leave, opening what would be a tremendous learning opportunity for Addington. She would find her work so interesting, that it changed the course of her life.

“That summer, I was a helper, doing a wide range of jobs within the centre. I went on to teacher training at Oxford, which grew my interest in educational and school psychology even more,” Addington says.

“I didn’t know it then but my experience at the psychiatric centre set me on a course to become a mental health researcher, particularly in the areas of psychosis and schizophrenia.”

Addington was one of seven Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) researchers named as a Clarivate Analytics highly cited researcher in 2018. It was the third time she has received the honour, recognizing exceptional performance by being in the top one per cent of cited researchers in their field and publication year.

Addington is a leading researcher in the early detection and prevention of psychosis, which often strikes young adults. She is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and member of the medical school’s Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education. She also holds the Novartis Chair for Schizophrenia Research at the university.

Addington is developing a comprehensive research program in early psychosis that includes detection, prediction and treatment. Individuals who may be at high risk typically include those in their late teens and early 20s. Her research aims to minimize the impact of the disease early, so that symptoms can be controlled before they can become severe or disabling.

While most mental disorders begin in the teens, there are gaps in our understanding of youth mental health. Her latest research has sought to identify youth at
different stages of risk for serious mental illness so that intervention can begin as soon as possible.

Improved identification of youth at risk represents the best chance at providing effective, appropriate and cost-effective treatment to each young person who needs help, Dr. Addington and her team noted in a 2018 study examining youth at risk for serious mental illness.

Dr. Jean Addington, PhD,

Dr. Jean Addington, PhD

CSM researchers on the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers 2018 list:

Dr. Jean Addington, PhD
Dr. Andrew Demchuk, MD
Dr. Paul Kubes, PhD
Dr. Glenda MacQueen, MD, PhD
Dr. Scott Patten, MD, PhD
Dr. Johann Pitout, MD
Dr. Marcello Tonelli, MD

Achievement in psychiatry

Three researchers on the list teach in the Department of Psychiatry. (Drs. Addington, Patten and MacQueen).

The catalyst

Philanthropist Ronald P. Mathison sparks progress in mental health research

By Holly Kerr, Hotchkiss Brain Institute

A$10-million gift from Calgary entrepreneur Ronald Mathison in 2012 established The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education. His visionary philanthropy continues to renew dialogue about mental health in southern Alberta and beyond.

At the Cumming School of Medicine’s Mathison Centre, research is generating new knowledge about mental health, with the Centre’s investigators pioneering and testing new approaches to inform treatment of youth mental illness. One study involves working in partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to provide school children with tools to confront the stigma of mental illness. Another study has investigators collaborating with the Calgary Child Advocacy Centre to understand the impact of abuse on the developing brain. Other community-based teaching and outreach initiatives are further strengthening the connection between The Mathison Centre and the community.

More than 60 mental health researchers are active members of the centre, working to help identify better health outcomes and improve the lives of young people suffering from mental illness through improvements in prediction, prevention and early intervention.


Ronald P. Mathison, entrepreneur, chairman of Matco Investments Ltd. and proud volunteer on the Hotchkiss Brain Institute’s Strategic Advisory Board.

“It’s time we start funding the research needed to make a difference.” — Ronald P. Mathison,