Dr. Georg Northoff named to Royal Society of Canada

Dr. Northoff joins 50 leaders recognized for outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement.

OTTAWA, ONTARIO – September 7, 2021: Today, The Royal announced that Dr. Georg Northoff, a world-renowned expert in the brain-mind connection and scientist with the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research at The Royal, was named to the Royal Society of Canada’s 2021 Class of Fellows. Fellows are nominated and elected by a group of their peers. In more than 130 years, The Royal Society of Canada has only inducted 3,700 scholars and artists, making Dr. Northoff a part of a very select group of innovators, thinkers, creators and difference makers in Canada. 

“I am honoured to be named as a member of The Royal Society of Canada’s 2021 Class of Fellows,” Northoff said. “My research represents a unique convergence of psychiatry, neuroscience and philosophy. I have sought to understand why and how the brain constructs mental features like the self and consciousness including their changes in psychiatric and neurologic disorders. This requires novel understanding of the brain-mind connection which, as one of the deepest secrets of our time, eludes scientists to this day. Unlocking how the mind is yielded by the brain will provide access to a more objective diagnosis and individualized therapy for mental disorders, so psychiatry can keep up with the other medical disciplines like cardiology. I want to thank my research group, my world-wide collaborators and the Institute of Mental Health Research with Dr. Florence Dzierszinski at its helm for their unequivocal support and shared fascination of the brain-mind connection.” 

“We are thrilled to celebrate Dr. Northoff’s induction into The Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science,” Dr. Florence Dzierszinski, president of the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research at The Royal and vice president of research at The Royal, said. “This is the highest distinction that can be given to a scholar, artist or scientist in Canada. The Institute is proud to enable innovative, cutting edge research like that conducted by Dr. Northoff. Through state-of-the-art technology platforms like The Royal’s Brain Imaging Centre, scientists are able explore uncharted territory in mental health and substance use. Dr. Northoff’s research to understand the brain-mind connection using artificial intelligence and to study the brain-heart connection are just two of the many examples of the transformational research he leads here at The Royal. His research projects, designed in partnership with clients of The Royal, also contribute to our mission as an academic health science center to help more people living with mental illness into recovery faster. We are proud to further recognize Dr. Northoff’s global impact on mental health care, research and education, and look forward to his future contributions, which will no doubt continue to break new ground.”  

Northoff is a transdisciplinary scholar and psychiatrist focusing on the brain-mind connection in humans and artificial agents. Through his research, Northoff developed a unique approach to understanding the brain-mind connection, including a study of their relationship to the world in terms of their temporospatial dynamic. His vision of the eternal brain-mind problem is as simple as it is ground-breaking. Northoff states that no special properties are needed as the brain and mind share their spatial organization and temporal dynamic. This sounds almost trivial, but often the most basic principles are the most difficult ones to decipher. Even more important, usage of these principles opens a novel and better future for psychiatric diagnosis and therapy – this is one of the foci of his current work.  

Northoff is the EJLB-CIHR Michael Smith Chair in Neurosciences and Mental Health and holds a CIHR Canada Research Chair tier 1 in Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics at the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research at The Royal. Northoff completed his initial training in medicine/psychiatry, neuroscience, and philosophy in Germany and his previous academic positions include professorships at the University of Magdeburg, Germany, and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Experimental research within his unit focuses on the functional and biochemical mechanisms underlying the sense of self and, consciousness in both healthy subjects and psychiatric patients. In addition to being a researcher and a clinical therapist, Northoff is also a prolific author for both academic and broader audiences with major works translated into various languages such as The Spontaneous Brain: From the mind-body to the world-brain problem, Neuro-philosophy and the healthy mind: Learning from the unwell brain, and Unlocking the brain (volumes one and two). 

Click here to learn more about Dr. Georg Northoff. You can learn more about the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Mental Health Research at The Royal here. Finally, to read more about this year’s Royal Society of Canada’s 2021 Class of Fellows. 

About The Royal

The Royal is simple: to help more people living with mental illness into recovery faster. The Royal combines the delivery of specialized mental health care, advocacy, research and education to transform the lives of people living with complex and treatment-resistant mental illness. The Royal includes mental health centres in Ottawa and Brockville, community mental health services at Carlingwood Mall, and four satellite offices. The Royal’s Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic treats Canadian Forces, veterans and RCMP, and is the only OSI clinic within a specialized academic mental health centre. The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, brings together leading clinicians, scientists and technology to investigate the brain circuitry linked to anxiety and depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and suicidal ideation. Hosting a world leading-edge technology in molecular imaging targeted solely to mental health, The Royal is an innovative powerhouse — putting the nation’s capital at the forefront of unlocking the secrets of the brain — the last frontier. The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health raises funds that support The Royal’s work. The Royal places a sharp focus on awareness building through the You Know Who I Am campaign and public education initiatives such as Conversations at The Royal and Is It Just Me? Conversations about Youth Mental Health. For more information, please visit theroyal.ca