Dr. Claudio Soares, director of the women's health concerns clinic at St. Joseph's Healthcare, has been recognized as a breakthrough researcher by a leading American foundation dedicated to mental health research.
For six years, Soares has been studying the effects of depression in pregnant women and the impact on their children. He is the first Canadian acknowledged by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) for breakthrough research on work it has funded.
"I think it's a nice acknowledgement of the research we do in Canada," said Soares. "It brings attention to what we do here."
Soares is also in the midst of a large long-term study researching maternal adversity, vulnerability and neurodevelopment (MAVAN). The study is being jointly conducted by McMaster University, where Soares is an associate professor, and by McGill University and University of Toronto researchers.
The study's clinical operation is in Hamilton, where 250 pregnant women -- half of them well and the other half depressed -- have been monitored.
Soares, with the help of a two-year NARSAD grant, is now going back to the MAVAN data to see how allergies in the study's children correlate with their mothers' mental health during pregnancy.
"We are looking at the transgenerational impact (of depression)," Soares said.
In previous segments of the study, researchers found stress, depression and anxiety during pregnancy causes low birth weights.
Soares has received several NARSAD grants totalling $250,000 to date. The aim of his studies is to understand the impact of depression during pregnancy and to develop treatment strategies.