Sept. 23, 2015

University recruits expert on childhood anxiety disorders

Paul Arnold named new director of The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education
Dr. Paul Arnold is the new director of The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Paul Arnold is the new director of The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education.

Adrian Shellard

Calgary is the new home of a child psychiatrist and researcher who specializes in childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Dr. Paul Arnold is the new director of The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education at the University of Calgary. He was recently recruited to the university’s Department of Psychiatry and Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) in the Cumming School of Medicine.

Arnold’s work focuses on the genetics and neurobiology of childhood OCD and related neuropsychiatric disorders. His research has the potential to predict risk factors and target treatment for mental health disorders. He is establishing Calgary’s first neurogenetics laboratory to study the role of genetics in mental health, which will be the first laboratory in the province to focus on genetic origins, specifically, in childhood mental illnesses.

Arnold’s research program is supported by a seven-year provincially funded Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions Translational Health Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health.

New leadership strengthens centre's aim to be at forefront

“Dr. Arnold’s excellence in the field of childhood psychiatric disorders will fortify the strengths of our brain and mental health research team,” says Ed McCauley, PhD, vice-president (research). “We welcome Paul, as he joins our team of more than 200 scholars and physician-scientists from across the academy, whose ongoing research and clinical work addresses the unprecedented challenges that will see one in three Canadians suffer a brain or nervous system affliction in their lives as a result of illness or injury.”

The Mathison Centre is focused on understanding the causes of mental illness and aims to generate knowledge to improve our understanding of the brain mechanisms, risk factors, and treatments of mental disorders, with special emphasis on youth populations. Almost 20 per cent of Canadian youth suffer from a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.

“Under Paul’s leadership, the Mathison Centre is poised to become an even greater force for mental health research right here in Calgary. His vision will propel the centre to the forefront of mental health and transform health care in our community and beyond,” says Samuel Weiss, PhD, director of the HBI and leader of the university-wide Brain and Mental Health research strategy. “Paul’s research exemplifies the integration of health and science. Seamless collaboration between the clinic and laboratory is the future of brain and mental health research.”

Arnold will also treat patients at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, and specialize in the assessment and treatment of children with OCD.

Arnold attracted by opportunities to collaborate 

Previously an associate professor at the University of Toronto, Arnold was also head of the anxiety disorders program and director of scientific development and innovation in the Department of Psychiatry at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Arnold says he was attracted to Calgary by the opportunities to work with diverse brain and mental health researchers and clinicians, including collaborations with the university’s HBI and Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

“The university and Calgary community at large provide an unparalleled degree of support to advance research and education on the determinants and treatment of mental health disorders,” says Arnold, who is also an associate professor in the departments of psychiatry and medical genetics in the Cumming School of Medicine.

The Mathison Centre was created as a partnership between the HBI and the Department of Psychiatry in 2012. It was made possible by a $10 million investment from Mr. Ronald P. Mathison, president and chief executive of Matco Investments Ltd.

Led by the HBI, Brain and Mental Health is one of six strategic research themes guiding the University of Calgary toward its Eyes High goals.