Ontario Tech University and Ontario Shores exploring new frontiers in AI to enhance mental wellness

February 13, 2020
Three staff members sitting at a table in discussion

WHITBY, ONTARIO – Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) proudly announces the appointment of Dr. Carolyn McGregor, AM as Inaugural Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Health and Wellness.
 
Created between Ontario Tech University and Ontario Shores, the Research Chair reflects Ontario Shores’ leadership in research, education and exemplary practice for individuals living with complex and serious mental illness.

Dr. McGregor’s Research Chair will contribute to the advancement of health informatics through research in computing and information technology to improve Canadians’ health care and global health and wellness.

Specifically, Dr. McGregor will look at mental illness prevention and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevention for point-of-care staff (e.g. nurses, psychiatrists, etc.) in two ways:

  • Predictive AI models will build physiological markers to detect when a patient is more likely to become aggressive.
  • The collaboration will promote new personalized training approaches to help mental health-care workers respond empathetically, therapeutically and non-reactively in the face of non-emergent risk, threats or stressful situations. Understanding their own personal response will help them pinpoint what they need to work on to build their own resilience.

The research will also extend Dr. McGregor’s separate and broader Ontario Shores collaboration to create new approaches to mental illness prevention among public safety personnel such as firefighters and tactical officers. Her previous work with the military and police services has deployed AI technologies to measure physiological responses to work-related stress and explore how public safety personnel can learn from the data (such as keeping their heart rate and breathing in ranges that allow them to perform at their best).

As a Professor with Ontario Tech’s Faculty of Business and Information Technology, Dr. McGregor is Co-Director of the Joint Research Centre in AI for Health and Wellness between Ontario Tech and Australia’s University of Technology Sydney. She is also Ontario Tech’s alumna Canada Research Chair in Health Informatics.

This collaboration will also create graduate student opportunities, furthering Ontario Shores’ commitment to student scholarship and the mentorship of future researchers. Ontario Shores and Ontario Tech look forward to the evolution of the shared Research Chair and the scientific breakthroughs achieved through their partnership.

Ontario Shores is a proven leader in the innovative use of information technology for mental health and wellness. It is Canada’s first health-care organization, and the world’s first mental health hospital, to achieve a Level 7 in electronic health record adoption from the global Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Quotes
“Dealing with aggressive patients can be stressful and potentially dangerous for mental health nurses. Everyone’s response is different. Current training approaches focus on skill development alone and lack mechanisms on an individual level for the assessment and development of resilience in these potential scenarios. Our approach to assess resilience through data has great potential to reduce the incidence of the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
- Dr. Carolyn McGregor, Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence for Health and Wellness

“Ontario Tech’s latest research collaboration with Ontario Shores is a powerful community-based partnership that further demonstrates our organizations’ collective capacity to enhance the mental health-care system through research excellence and the ethical application of technology – Tech with a Conscience. Combining our expertise in AI with Ontario Shores’ innovative use of information technology for mental health and wellness will benefit our community.”
- Dr. Steven Murphy, President and Vice-Chancellor, Ontario Tech University

“It is my pleasure to partner with Ontario Tech and welcome Dr. Carolyn McGregor to the role of Research Chair in AI for Health and Wellness. Together, we are taking another innovative step forward in science-based research for the betterment of our community. We are advancing current training with new approaches that will improve mental health resilience in our organization.”
- Karim Mamdani, President and CEO, Ontario Shores

About Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) is a leader in mental health care, providing a range of specialized assessment and treatment services for people living with complex mental illness. Patients benefit from a recovery-oriented environment of care, built on compassion, inspiration and hope. Ontario Shores engages in research, education and advocacy initiatives to advance the mental health care system.
 

About Ontario Tech University
A modern, forwarding-thinking university, Ontario Tech advances the discovery and application of knowledge to accelerate economic growth, regional development and social innovation. We inspire and equip our students and our graduates to make a positive impact in a tech-focused world. For us, it’s not only about developing the next tech breakthrough. Understanding and integrating the social and ethical implications of technology differentiates us as university. Learn more at ontariotechu.ca.

For more information, please contact:
Andrea Marshall
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
Director, Communications, Volunteers and CEOD
905.430.4055 ext. 6581
905.439.0224
marshalla@ontarioshores.ca

Bryan Oliver
Ontario Tech University
Communications and Marketing
905.721.8668 ext. 6709
289.928.3653 (mobile)
bryan.oliver@ontariotechu.ca