Meet the ASR Team

Sidney H. Kennedy,
MD, FRCPC
Chair
Sidney H. Kennedy is the Arthur Sommer Rotenberg Chair in Suicide and Depression Studies at St. Michael’s Hospital, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and a Scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute and Toronto Western Research Institute. Dr. Kennedy’s work involves new drug evaluation, neuroimaging and neurostimulation therapies in depression, and the development and renewal of treatment guidelines for both Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. In defining a direction for ASR, Dr. Kennedy identified biological markers and risk assessment as the primary research focus, in addition to continuing and developing clinical interventions to aid persons with suicidal ideation and behaviour.
ResearchGatePublications on PubMed
Sakina Rizvi,
PhD, MACP, RP
Scientist
Dr. Sakina Rizvi received her PhD in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Collaborative Program in Neuroscience at the University of Toronto. She has over 10 years of research experience in psychiatry across the areas of neuroimaging, neuropsychology, psychotherapy, pharmacology, and scale development; with a focus in Major Depressive Disorder. Currently, Dr. Rizvi is a Scientist in the Arthur Sommer Rotenberg (ASR) Suicide and Depression Studies Program at St. Michael’s Hospital and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. She is also a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. Her research within the ASR program aims to characterize the neurobiology of suicide risk and treatment resistant depression, primarily through the use of fMRI and PET neuroimaging, and to develop and test novel psychotherapeutic strategies. Within her biomarker research, she is evaluating brain reward mechanisms as predictors of treatment outcome and as a path for intervention. In addition to her research, Dr. Rizvi is actively involved in outreach and advocacy projects with an emphasis on providing mental health education to the community through the creative arts.
Publications on PubMed
Venkat Bhat, MD MSc FRCPC DABPN
Psychiatrist, Clinician-Scientist
Dr. Bhat is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He is currently a staff psychiatrist based at two Depression Centres: The Centre for Depression and Suicide Studies at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Poul Hansen Depression Centre at Toronto Western Hospital. At St. Michael’s Hospital, he is the Director of the Interventional Psychiatry Program which offers novel psychopharmacological and neurostimulation options for Mood Disorders. At Toronto Western Hospital, he has a focus on invasive neurostimulation (Deep Brain Stimulation and Invasive Brain Mapping) and is currently leading a study comparing ECT to IV Ketamine for Treatment-resistant Depression. Dr. Bhat collaborates closely with anesthesia, imaging, neurology and neurosurgery to offer procedural interventions for psychiatric disorders, his research program aims to understand the neural circuitry underlying treatment-response with these emerging interventions.
Publications on PubMed
Aleksandra Lalovic, MSc, MEd, RP
Research Psychotherapist
Aleksandra Lalovic is a Research Psychotherapist in the ASR Program. She is involved in several studies investigating innovative psychotherapeutic approaches to help people who experience suicidal ideation and behaviour. She is a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). Aleksandra completed her clinical training at University of Toronto’s OISE Counselling Psychology program. She also holds a research doctorate in Neuroscience from McGill University, where she studied the neurobiology and genetics of depression and suicide risk.
Publications on PubMed
Susan Rotzinger, PhD
Program Manager
Susan Rotzinger is the Program Manager for the ASR Chair and for the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network for Depression, one of the Integrated Discovery Programs of the Ontario Brain Institute. Susan holds a PhD in Neuroscience-Psychiatry from the University of Alberta, and has many years of experience managing clinical and preclinical research programs. Susan’s goal is to maximize the benefit of the research collaborations and partnerships of our growing networks, to facilitate biomarker discovery and improve treatment and prevention strategies.
ResearchGatePublications on PubMed
Jane Foster, PhD
Scientist
Dr. Foster is a Scientist within the ASR program. Her research, based at McMaster University, aims to understand how the body’s immune system and gut microbiota affects brain development and function. Dr. Foster hopes that her research accomplishments lead to a better understanding of how these relationships contribute to psychiatric disorders such as neurodevelopmental disorders, anxiety and depression. In collaboration with her clinical colleagues, she is interested in translating these findings to the depressed patient population (MDD) and suicide risk.
ResearchGatePublications on PubMed
Amanda Ceniti, HBSc
Graduate Student
Amanda Ceniti is a PhD Candidate with the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the association between concussion, depression, and suicide risk using neuroimaging, reward, and clinical measures. She is involved in several studies with the program, including biomarkers of suicide risk and suicide-related presentations to the emergency department, as well as public outreach and advocacy initiatives. Amanda's primary role is research-oriented, but she is also responsible for ASR website development. Amanda received her HBSc at the University of Toronto, specializing in Neuroscience and minoring in Music History & Culture.
ResearchGatePublications on PubMed
Molly Hyde, MSc
Graduate Student
Molly completed her HBSc and MSc at the University of Ottawa with a research focus in EEG methodology and brain stimulation treatment in depression. She is currently a PhD student with the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto and her project uses neuroimaging to uncover biomarkers associated with anhedonia and suicide risk. Molly is dedicated to improving mental health outcomes for patients and hopes to continue pursuing neuropsychiatry research in the future.
ResearchGate
Shijing (Cynthia) Wang, MSc
Research Coordinator
Cynthia received her HBSc from University of Toronto with a specialization in Psychology and a major in Neuroscience, and recently completed her MSc with the ASR Program in the Institute of Medical Science at University of Toronto (Supervisor: Dr. Sakina Rizvi). She is involved in several studies that run in the program, focusing on the study that explores the brain function and neural network that underlie the risk of suicide. Working actively in a volunteer suicide prevention role outside ASR, Cynthia has a passion for advocating mental health and hopes to pursue further degree in psychiatry in the future.
Michael Morton, HBSc
Research Assistant
Michael completed his Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto, majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience, and he is currently pursuing a degree in counselling psychology and psychotherapy. He is involved in several ongoing studies at ASR, including biomarkers of suicide risk and the association between concussion and depression. He is also working on 2 novel studies investigating different psychotherapy interventions for mitigating suicide risk in the general public and preventing healthcare professional burnout in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of ASR, Michael has a passion for mental health advocacy and outreach, and he wishes to pursue a future career in psychology, balancing private practice and community outreach and advocacy initiatives.
Hailey Wright, B.Arts Sc. (Honours)
Research Coordinator
Hailey received her Honours Bachelor of Arts & Science with a minor in Mental Health & Addictions at McMaster University. Prior to joining the ASR, Hailey was coordinating neuroimaging research at CAMH with a focus on treatment resistant late-life depression. In the ASR, Hailey is coordinating the suicide and depression neuroimaging study stream, and is also involved with our community outreach efforts.

 

ASR Alumni

Nicole Edgar, HBSc
Research Coordinator
Julie Stinson, MA
Research Coordinator
Joanna Yu, PhD
Research Manager
Yingchen Fan, MSc
Research Assistant
Zarin Zahra, HBSc
Research Assistant
Mehek Chaudhry, MSc
Research Coordinator
Shane McInerney,
MD, MRCPsych
Clinician-Scientist
Alana Harrington, MSc, CCRP, PMP
Research Manager
Janice Pong, MSc
Communications Lead
Anum Shivji Arwani, MSc
Outreach Coordinator
Yvonne Bergmans, PhD, MSW, RSW
Suicide Interventionist
Troy Chow, MSc
Graduate Student
Tian Renton, PhD
Graduate Student
Sophie Vaccarino, MSc
Graduate Student