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News (Timeline: Left/Right)

Department of Psychiatry Summer Studentship Program!

by Prosit Team

Meet Sana, who has been both a research assistant and a volunteer with the PROSIT laboratory since 2020. She will be completing a project with the Department of Psychiatry Summer Studentship Program (DPRF) in the lab this summer. Sana recently graduated from Dalhousie University with an honors in Neuroscience and is looking forward to working again with the lab this summer!

The project that Sana will be conducting as part of her Summer Studentship looks at paying attention to the right cues in social interactions. Social interactions are important for human mental health and well-being, and social isolation can result in poorer well-being. Youth receiving less social support have very limited social competencies and thus are found to have emotional issues. It has been found that attentional mechanisms play a role in our social behavior, more importantly, attentional biases have been found in youth with emotion problems. Much of the literature has analyzed static instead of dynamic social stimuli. More importantly, with the presence of social media today, many interactions taking place are virtual. There is limited research looking at the connection between attentional biases and online social interactions.

During her Studentship, Sana will be responsible for recruitment of participants, analyze dynamic, static and online social stimuli using eye tracker technology, and having participants install a mobile sensing app on their phone which will record participants’ social interactions. Sana would like to thank the Department of Psychiatry for considering her for this position and for providing a generous grant which will assist her in completing her studentship with the PROSIT laboratory and help her in further developing her scientific research skills.

IWK Summer Studentship!

by Prosit Team

Meet Holly, one of our soon to be Masters Students! She has joined us to complete a project with the IWK Summer Studentship Research Program and our lab this summer. Holly recently graduated from a Bachelor of Science with an honours in psychology at Dalhousie University and will join our team at the end of May.

Holly's project for her Summer Studentship will analyze how the mental health of children is connected to the mental health of their parents in a unique sample of families living with 22q11DS. Her project will familiarize her with the families that she will work with during her Master’s and get to know their needs and wishes. She will be trained in using survey platforms and get exposed to analyses that will prepare her well for her Master’s thesis project as well as her career path in mental health. She would like to thank the IWK Research Services Office for their generous grant that will enable her to complete her studentship project with the PROSIT Lab.

Award Announcement!

by Prosit Team

With excitement and gratitude, the Prosit Lab would like to announce that we have recently received the Maud Menten New Principal Investigator Prize from the CIHR Institute of Genetics!

This national award recognizes and supports the research of Canadian Early-Career Investigators working under the CIHR Institute of Genetics' mandate.

We thank the funder, our team members, associates, and participants for making this tremendous honour possible.

We will continue to uphold our standard of excellence as we progress in our research efforts.

Thrilled Over Thesis Success!

by Prosit Team

We are excited to announce that one of our colleagues, Silvia Marin-Dragu, has successfully defended her master's thesis in the Psychiatry Research Program at Dalhousie University.

Her thesis, titled The impact of smartphone use and sleep duration on youth mental health, examined these associations through an innovative mobile sensing app developed by PROSIT Lab. The results of this research project highlight the importance of sleep on youth mental well-being and underscore the detrimental effect of excessive smartphone use.

Silvia would like to thank the participants who made her work possible, as well as mentor Dr. Sandra Meier, and committee members Dr. Penny Corkum and Dr. Alexa Bagnell.

This fall, Silvia will be starting the Ph.D. Clinical Psychology Program at Dalhousie, co-supervised by Dr. Sandra Meier and Dr. Jill Chorney. Her research will centre around using technology to enhance mental health interventions. We are beyond thrilled by Silvia's success and look forward to seeing what her bright future holds.

All Smiles Ahead!

by Prosit Team

One of our post-doctoral researchers is about to make you smile with his latest work. 

Dr. Matt Orr, who is interested in the intersection of information tech and behavioural problems, as well as issues surrounding mental health disorders, is working on an intervention app entitled SMILE for youths with anxiety and sleep concerns.  

The app will measure sleep through mobile sensing of youth's phone activity and utilize that data to provide strategic recommendations to improve sleep problems affecting them. Dr. Orr hopes that by engaging with the app and applying these strategies, participants’ overall mental well-being will be improved.

Dr. Orr expects the app, funded by Nova Scotia Health's Research Fund and the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, to launch this fall to select participants. Our lab is excited to hear the positive responses to the app that we are sure lie ahead. 

A Summer of Scholarship

by Prosit Team

Meet Eva, one of our new research assistants! She has joined us to complete a project with the IWK Summer Studentship Research Program and our lab this summer. Eva is going into her fourth year of her undergrad at Dalhousie University with an honours in psychology. She is currently working alongside other lab members to support our Social Media study.

Eva's project for her Summer Studentship will analyze the motives of social media use in youth as well as how cyberbullying may play into that association. She would like to thank the IWK Research Services Office for their generous grant that will enable her to complete her studentship project with the PROSIT Lab.

News Article

by Prosit Team

Dr. Sandra Meier has been featured in an article by Saltwire Atlantic Canada for her research on the genetic underpinnings of 11 major psychiatric disorders. Click on the headline or image above to read more!

Canadian Institute for Health Research Grant

by Prosit Team

Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most effective treatment for anxiety disorders in youth, but many patients do not respond well enough. To decide if cognitive behavioural therapy is working well for their patient or other treatment options should be considered, clinicians often rely on subjective data. However, clinical decision-making based on such subjective data is difficult; hence, there is a real need to identify better and more objective markers of clinical response. 

Our team is very grateful and humbled to announce that we have received a second grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research! Our study focuses on mobile sensing to improve the standard and treatment of anxiety disorders in youth. We aim to test if mobile sensing data predict daily anxiety symptoms over time, assess if combining these data with subjective data can improve clinical prediction accuracy, and develop actionable feedback loops. Such an actionable clinical monitoring tool will major clinical benefit and empower youth to get actively involved in their care.

Canadian Institute for Health Research Grant

by Prosit Team

About 11% of youth in Canada suffer annually from an anxiety disorder and even more so during the recent pandemic. Youth with anxiety disorders do worse at school, have poorer health outcomes, and are more likely to die by suicide. Genetic factors play an important role in the development of anxiety disorders. However, research on genetic factors among youth is more limited. To better understand the development of anxiety disorders among youth we need to include larger samples of youth in current genetic research. 


Our team is overjoyed to share the news of receiving a grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research for our study focusing on the  "Genetic Architecture of Youth Anxiety (GAYA)"! The GAYA study will include 6,500 youth patients and 6,500 youth from the general population. We aim to identify novel genetic risk variants for anxiety disorders in youth and assess how much of the genetic risk for anxiety is shared between youth and adults. We will also explore whether youth with a higher genetic risk respond worse to treatment and will need additional support. A better understanding of the genetic risk factors for anxiety disorders could potentially lead to early detection, better treatments and improved outcomes for Canadian youth.

by Prosit Team

Our team is proud to announce that we have received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for our new study to improve the care of individuals with 22q11 deletion syndrome.

Our proposed research study uses a multidisciplinary approach to assess the socioeconomic impact of the 22q11 deletion syndrome and test the effects of an easy-to-access online coaching intervention designed to help reduce this impact for families.

To learn more about the 22q11 initiative and details of our study, click the image above!

New Publication

by Prosit Team

Our team is pleased to announce our latest publication!
Current methods of assessing mental health disorders with internalized symptoms are inadequate; thus, new assessment tools such as mobile sensing technology may be the key to improved mental health services.
Click the image above to read more about the study and its findings!

Café Scientifique

by Prosit Team

Join Dr.Sandra Meier and her colleagues, Dr. Brenda Penninx, Dr. Ken Rockwood, Dr. JianLi Wang, Dr. Tomas Hajek, and Dr. Martin Alda on November 10th, at Dalhousie Psychiatry Research Day. The panel will be presenting an online conversation addressing topics related to Depression, Aging and Somatic Health. 


Be sure to join in on the conversation!

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