About Research

The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR), affiliated with the University of Ottawa is one of Canada’s foremost research institutes focused on mental health. 

Our researchers specialize in complex and treatment-resistant mental illness, and conduct innovative work that is leading to the development of more personalized and alternative treatment options, to help improve patient care locally and globally. 

We are also strongly focused on advancing prevention and early intervention strategies; to help curb mental illness before it starts. 

Our researchers are tackling important mental health questions in a number of different areas, including mood disorders; stress and trauma; youth mental health; suicide prevention; sleep disorders; military mental health; and workplace mental health. 

We are home to a number of dedicated research facilities including the Brain Imaging Centre and the Sleep Research Laboratory, which are equipped with state-of-the-art technologies that enable our researchers to study the brain and mind in new and innovative ways. 

As a member of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO), we are ideally positioned to translate our researchers’ cutting-edge discoveries into transformative mental health care for individuals at The Royal -- and beyond. 

Our History

The Royal's IMHR was established in 1990 by the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group (ROHCG) and the University of Ottawa. It incorporated under the Canada Corporations Act in 1999 in response to the ROHCG’s new mandate as a specialized diagnostic, treatment and education centre; serving more than one million residents of the Champlain Local Health Integration Network. 

Under the initial stewardship of Dr. Yvon Lapierre, the IMHR’s conceptual framework to advance basic and clinical mental health research in Canada was formulated. 

Since 2002, Dr. Zul Merali has served as the IMHR’s President & CEO. He was responsible for overseeing the transition of the IMHR from a “virtual” research institute into one of Canada’s largest institutes dedicated to mental health research. 

Our approach to mental health research falls under three overarching pillars:

INNOVATION: Taking novel approaches to research, and harnessing cutting-edge technologies and tools to better understand the brain.

INTERVENTION: Informing the development of personalized and alternative treatment options to improve patient care and help people get people better, faster. 

PREVENTION: Identifying the biological, social and environmental mechanisms associated with mental illness, and using predictive analytics to develop early intervention strategies and inform health systems and policies.

The Royal's IMHR: In Numbers


Research to Action: From Neuron to Neighbourhood