Research team 2022:
Principal investigators: Alexandre Dumais, MD, PhD, FRCPC ; Stéphane Potvin, PhD
Kingsada Phraxayavong, FSA, FICA, gestionnaire du laboratoire ; Marie-Andrée Lapierre, infirmière, coordonnatrice clinique ; Julie-Manon Deslongchamps, infirmière, évaluatrice ; Souhad Chehab, professionnelle de recherche, évaluatrice ; Jasmine Boulette, infirmière, évaluatice ; Stéphane Gagnon, psychologue
PhD students: Mélissa Beaudoin ; Alexandre Hudon ; Simon-Pierre Arevalo ; Laura Dellazizzo ; Maria Athanassiou ; Alexandra Fortier
Master’s students: Sabrina Giguère, Taylor Simoes-Gomes, Elischa Augustin
Interns: Sara-Kim Boivin, Olivier Khayat, Véronica Iammatteo
Research Team 2019
Research Team 2018

My desire to set up new projects in the hope of broadening scientific knowledge has led me into the research world. For instance, the Avatar Project offers a highly innovative therapy for patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. This defies current clinical boundaries. In addition, I am proud of what my team can accomplish. When we work together, we can go far.

Psychiatrist and Principal Investigator

It is with great enthusiasm that I joined the team as Clinical Coordinator. I sincerely hope that my clinical background will allow me to contribute to improving the quality of life of patients with schizophrenia. New technologies offer a lot of hope, and this research project opens the door to countless possible treatments for other mental health disorders.

Clinical coordinator

The Avatar Project aims to improve the patients’ symptom management capabilities and to offer them a better quality of life. It is important to move toward alternative solutions to pharmacotherapy, and to focus on empowering patients. I am happy to contribute in my own way to a research project that is in line with my values.

Communications Officer

I am a PhD student at the Université de Montréal. My training in engineering and my research in cognitive science has led me to Dr. Dumais. Indeed, his laboratory elegantly combines very innovative technologies and a very humane therapy, close to the heart of the problems of people with mental disorders. Exposure therapies open the door to unfamiliar environments and unexplored worlds: this immediately fascinated me. I see in this project the future of mental health therapies. I study the immersive factors (the richness of the environment, the realism of facial animations, speech analysis, etc.) by using artificial intelligence to develop a therapy that meets the patients’ expectations. These discoveries may also be extended to treatments for other mental disorders.

PhD Student

I have the opportunity to work with a team that prioritizes the well-being of people with mental health disorders. The Avatar Project offers new treatments that use virtual reality. More importantly, I have the opportunity to learn from the expertise of professionals and from the experiences of our patients. I find it immensely rewarding to see the positive impact of the Avatar Therapy.

PhD Student

I was surprised by the important challenges of the research community. I find a source of intellectual stimulation and inspiration by meeting wonderful individuals from various different sectors. Beyond the scientific aspects, there is a social mission that guides these projects. I am pleased to be a part of this adventure.

Laboratory Manager

I chose to work in Mental Health because I deeply believe in each individuals’s growth potential, because I like people. I am fascinated by the human mind. I also believe that there are too many taboos, too much stigma surrounding Mental Health. When we look around us with sensitivity and openness, we meet the eyes of those affected by mental illness. And we question our perspectives on life, we question the meaning we give to our short time on this Earth.

Knowing that one Canadian on five is afflicted by mental illness and that one Canadian on one hundred has schizophrenia, I think that it is of utmost important to glance more deeply into the problem. We must search, we must demystify, we must understand, so as to help and to evolve as a society. Ignoring this reality will not make it disappear. It will not temper the fear and suffering that surrounds mental illness. It will not allow us to be well equipped.

Ever since my very first day as a Mental Health nurse, I have been touched daily by the great suffering experienced by those with the complex health condition that is schizophrenia. I have often felt limited by what I could offer them. I hoped to make a difference. When I joined Dr. Dumais’ team two years ago, I felt galvanized by the new treatment possibilities. My experience has allowed me to witness first-hand all the positive impacts that the therapy has had on my patients. I am attached to the project and to the wonderful team that makes it possible.

Now, I have hope. I have seen the change happen within those who followed through with the therapy. I have seen people regain power over their lives. I have seen their confidence grow. I have seen them flourish. We have built something solid and promising. It does not matter whether my patients’ hallucinations disappeared, decreased or remained. The fact is that I have seen change take place within them, and I find that beautiful.

Research Nurse

Working on the Avatar Project has been a new challenge for me, and it was truly heartwarming. I had the pleasure of contributing to its advancement and of working with patients who had access to this therapy. I was fortunate to be part of the team as a clinical research nurse. This first research experience has made me want to persevere in this field to improve the quality of life of those with mental illnesses. That’s what Avatar Therapy has to offer, and those are the results I have observed!

Research Nurse and MSc Student (IPS Mental Health)

I like working on a meaningful project with a competent and ambitious team.

BSc student