CAMH - Bringing research funding to the masses

CAMH researchers awarded funding through innovative competition

The decision to fund mental health research, usually the purview of sedate panels of academics, was delivered into the hands of the people, thanks to the CAMH Foundation’s volunteer board of young leaders who call themselves CAMH Engage.

Dubbed the CAMH Breakthrough Challenge, this program used the power of social media to engage the greater community in the research being undertaken at CAMH. The winner of the challenge would be awarded $5,000 to assist in funding their research. Sedate? Not so much.

Through an online voting model, scientists appealed to the general public through a series of informative videos that described why their research was worthy of funding, culminating in a question-and-answer debate that occurred on November 6 in Toronto.

In the inaugural challenge, five CAMH researchers stepped up to the plate (or rather, to the pitcher’s mound) to pitch their innovative research: Dr. Faranak Farzan, Dr. Sean Kidd, Dr. Yona Lunsky, Dr. Romina Mizrahi, and Dr. Albert Wong (Watch their videos here). Each of these visionary researchers hope to find ways to tackle clinical and societal issues surrounding mental health.

Over 21,000 votes were received from ten countries worldwide, and two finalists - Dr. Farzan and her research with depression and Dr. Lunsky and her work in developmental disabilities - were selected to compete for the top prize on November 6.

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