Two faculty members – Michael Kobor and Raymond Lam – have been appointed BC Leadership Chairs, a program aimed at fostering world-class research in British Columbia.
Dr. Kobor, a Professor of Medical Genetics and Canada Research Chair in Social Epigenetics, is now the Sunny Hill BC Leadership Chair in Child Development. He is a world-leading expert in the field of social epigenetics, researching how diverse early life experiences affect human development and influence children’s health, learning and behavior.
Dr. Lam, a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Mood Disorders Centre at Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, is now the BC Leadership Chair in Depression Research. He is an authority on mood disorders, particularly seasonal affective disorders, as well as depression in the workplace.
The chairs are supported by the Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF), which is managed by the BC Innovation Council on behalf of the Government of British Columbia. The fund, created in 2002, was established to promote economic growth and job creation, strengthen the province’s position as a centre of excellence in research, and promote the unique roles that B.C. universities and colleges play in innovation in B.C.
LEEF uses a cost-sharing partnership with the private sector. Dr. Kobor’s chair is made possible thanks to funding from LEEF, the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Lawson Foundation, the Donald Rix Foundation and the Koerner Foundation. Dr. Lam’s chair is supported by funding from LEEF and several donations to the Vancouver General Hospital-UBC Hospital Foundation.
Michael Kobor: Probing how experience gets “under the skin”
Dr. Kobor’s Sunny Hill BC Leadership Chair in Child Development will be co-located at UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute (BCCHR), and the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children. Dr. Kobor’s research program will expand our understanding of the mechanisms and processes by which biological embedding occurs – how experience gets “under the skin” to influence lifelong health and wellbeing. Combining the individual strengths of HELP, Sunny Hill Health Centre and BCCHR, Dr. Kobor’s vision is to create “child-sized, made-in-B.C. solutions with global impact.”
Dr. Kobor and his team will map at the molecular level the biological trajectories of healthy child development. This will serve as the basis to understand the distinct trajectories of children with neurodevelopmental disorders, and provide a unique knowledge base for evidenced-based interventions.
Dr. Kobor’s research at HELP and BCCHR offers the unique opportunity to advance our understanding of the biological underpinnings of child development by combining the extensive clinical research capability at BCCHR and the rich child population health data at HELP.
Dr. Kobor is a Senior Scientist at the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT), Theme Lead for Healthy Starts at the BC Children’s Research Institute, an Investigator with Kids Brain Health Network NCE, a co-lead of the Gene X Environment Platform of the AllerGen NCE, and a Senior Fellow in the Child and Brain Development Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR).
Raymond Lam: Exploring depression’s impact on cognition
Dr. Lam has devoted his career to examining clinical and neurobiological factors in depression, leading clinical trials and formulating treatment guidelines, and advancing eHealth approaches to mental health.
As the BC Leadership Chair in Depression Research, Dr. Lam will focus on clinical depression’s impairment of cognition and the consequences on occupational function; new clinical tools to track cognitive and work functioning; and developing technology-based treatments.
Specifically in regard to treatment, he will explore the potential of early recognition and intervention to prevent short- and long-term disability, and tools such as telephone-administered counseling, light therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation and eHealth methods. Other avenues of his research will be measurement-based care (the systematic use of rating scales to support clinical decision-making in treating depression), and the use of computer-based programs to assist in cognitive remediation.
Dr. Lam is the Associate Head for Research in the UBC Department of Psychiatry, Residency Director for the department’s research track, Director of the BC Depression Research, Education Awareness and Care Hub, lead investigator for the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression and Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Digital Hub for Mental Health. He has published over 400 scientific articles and books chapters, and edited or authored 11 books on depression.