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Karl Looper, MD, FRCPC
Program Director, Postgraduate Education
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University.
Attending Staff, Department of Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital

Dr. Karl Looper is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. He graduated from the McGill Psychiatry Residency Program in 2000, completed a Master of Psychiatry and fellowship in Psychosomatic Medcine. He is a psychiatric consultant to the medical and surgical departments of the Jewish General Hospital and the Segal Cancer Centre. His clinical and research activities focus on the interaction between psychiatric issues and medical illness. In addition, Dr. Looper is the Director of the McGill Psychiatry Residency Training Program.

Major Research Activities

Dr. Looper's research has addressed the overlaping and interacting processes between a person's medical problems and their mental health, ranging from drug interactions in breast cancer patients, the effect of depression on patients with major medical illnesses, and unexplained medical phenomena routinely ascribed to psychiatric problems. The impact of these issues can be as relevant to the overall health of a patient as the primary medical diagnosis itself. For example, the potential interaction between certain antidepressants and tamoxifen can greatly reduce the anti-cancer effect of tamoxifen which is prescribed to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer (Desmarais & Looper, 2009). Depression is found to be a very significant predictor of medical outcomes, such as overall physical functioning in pulmonary hypertension (Looper et al, 2009), and even a past history of depression predisposes patients with inflammatory arthritis to have negative medical consequences (ongoing research, Fonds de recherche en santé Québec).

In many cases, a clear underlying medical diagnosis cannot be extablished to explain an individual's physical problems. The assumption that what is not identified as medical is therefore psychiatric leads to great conflict in the clinical setting, where the explanation of the problem contradicts the patient's illness experience and erects barriers to care. Dr. Looper has explored this dilema in numerous settings, including the general medical clinic (Kirmayer & Looper, 2006), the experience of pseudoseizures in a neurological centre (
Fonds de recherche sur la société et culture Québec) and unexplained problems in the emergency room (ongoing reserach). The dilema of the interaction between the medical and psychiatric aspects of a person's care has challenged physicians as far back as Hippocrates. New models of illness and approaches to treatment are required to address these complex psychosomatic problems.

Recent Publications

Desmarais JE, Looper KJ. Interactions between tamoxifen and antidepressants via cytochrome P450 2D6. J Clin Psychiatry. 2009 Dec;70(12):1688-9

Looper K, Pierre A, Dunkley DM, Sigal JJ, Langleben D. Depression and Physical Functioning in Pulmonary Hypertension. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2009 Mar;66(3):221-5.

Looper K. Potential Medical and Surgical Complications of Serotonergic Antidepressant Medications. Psychosomatics 2007; 48(1):1-9.
Dr. Looper's research has addressed issues including: 
drug interactions in breast cancer patients; the effect of depression on patients with major medical illnesses; and understanding unexplained medical phenomena routinely ascribed to psychiatric problems.

Dr. Looper's Publications Indexed on PubMed

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