Meet Dr. Jehannine Austin, the new Executive Director of the Provincial Health Services Authority's BC Mental Health and Addictions Research Institute.
In this role, Jehannine has been tasked with leading a group of researchers across different universities and departments to define how to grow and develop the Institute over the next few years. The team spans across BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services as well as BC Children's Hospital child and youth mental health programs.
"I'm really excited to take PHSA research in mental health and substance use to the next level," says Jehannine. "My goal is for our research institute to achieve national recognition for our excellence in clinically oriented mental health and substance use research across the lifespan."
Since taking this role on in September 2017, Jehannine and her team have focused on strengthening engagement with patients and families who have lived experience with mental health and substance use issues. To do this, an advisory committee has been formed that includes patients and families, and together they will help shape the future of the research institute. Jehannine shares that the committee's strategic planning process begins in January 2018, and will focus on connecting the research and the direction the institute is taking back to the people they are trying to help in the first place.
Jehannine is an Associate Professor in the UBC Faculty of Medicine with affiliations to both the Psychiatry and Medical Genetics departments. She received her PhD in neuropsychiatric genetics from the University of Wales' College of Medicine in 2001 before completing training as a genetic counselor at UBC in 2003. She is the recipient of multiple external awards including a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award, CIHR's 2007 Maud Menten New Investigator Award, and was recently honoured as a Mental Health Difference Maker by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Jehannine has also been inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) as a Fellow, which is considered one of the highest honours within Canada's academic community. She has published several academic papers and has also co-authored a book on "How to talk with families about genetics and psychiatric illness" (W.W Norton, 2011).